Education and the social Web: Connective learning and the commercial imperative


  • Norm Friesen Thompson Rivers University



Web 2.0, social Web, connectivism, Facebook


In recent years, new socially-oriented Web technologies have been portrayed as placing the learner at the centre of networks of knowledge and expertise, potentially leading to new forms of learning and education. In this paper, I argue that commercial social networks are much less about circulating knowledge than they are about connecting users (“eyeballs”) with advertisers; it is not the autonomous individual learner, but collective corporate interests that occupy the centre of these networks. Looking first at Facebook, Twitter, Digg and similar services, I argue their business model restricts their information design in ways that detract from learner control and educational use. I also argue more generally that the predominant “culture” and corresponding types of content on services like those provided Google similarly privileges advertising interests at the expense of users. Just as commercialism has rendered television beyond the reach of education, commercial pressures threaten to seriously limit the potential of the social Web for education and learning.




How to Cite

Friesen, N. (2010). Education and the social Web: Connective learning and the commercial imperative. First Monday, 15(12).