The Online Oral Academic Learning Community

By Lorette S.J. Weldon, Published on September 12, 2010

This article was originally published in the book, Research and Social Networking, available through Amazon.com at http://micurl.com/ccwxeo in August 2010.


Conducting research often results in print and electronic text. It would be great to get the inside feelings of the authors and researchers. How about using oral tradition and getting to the heart of research by hearing it from the researchers through social networking? By using the podcasting method and an online learning community based on the Microsoft (MS) SharePoint platform, researchers can share their experiences and collaborate on best practices for past, current, and ongoing research.

A Network of Researchers

As long as the initial skill of social networking exists, institutions could take advantage of it for learning stimuli with podcasting. According to Shneiderman (2009), a network of research between researchers could exist similar to the Social Science Research Network. A higher educational institution could develop a network of podcasts related to a common subject. Each podcast would have the potential of branching out into another node to another topic or subtopic. Shneiderman (2009) discussed the Humanities Research Network as a "clearinghouse" of documents that researchers could use as a sharing vehicle of documents focused on "philosophy, classics, and English and American literature" (Howard, 2007, A1).

In a podcasting program, instead of documents shared, audio shows or podcasts would be shared. It would operate Apple's iTunes U, which would contain a subject hierarchy related to the courses that would have podcasts of lectures. Podcast publishers could share their shows. The users of the site would either have the copyright to the content of the show, or they would cooperate under Creative Commons (Read, 2007). Creative Commons would be a license to download the podcasts and share them as long as the user had identified the owner of the podcast and institution that would own the podcast (Ibid.). The podcast creator's name and profile would be on a tag on the podcast and also in the user profile attached to the podcast. The site would also function like podbean.com, which would allow users to upload podcasts, label them under subjects, and then allow others to play them. This would meet the needs of students under Dewey's constructivism (Huang, 2002).

Students would learn from each other and learn from their own experiences from the content. The students would then share the whole experience with each other allowing other classmates to learn from their experiences. Shneiderman (2009) further discussed this collaborative idea based on a network of over 82,000 authors. In a similar method, an institution with a podcasting program similar to this network would allow ideas to be shared across institutions with similar courses. It would allow cross-posting ideas from different cultures studying the subject content of one podcast compared to another within a similar or same course.

Asynchronous Scholarly Thought Shared

Shneiderman (2009) pointed out that there would be a site moderator that would have criteria for what could be uploaded into specific subject and subsubject relationships. This type of technology program would keep the institution up to date with the social-networking skills of the incoming freshmen and their competitor institutions. Lipka (2009) discussed some of the institutions using social-networking sites to gain the attention of students, especially during recruiting time. Institutions' admission offices using social-networking sites were at 61 percent in 2007. Assumption College displayed Twitter on its Web site. Flickr could be found on the University of New Mexico's Web site (Ibid.). Ohio State University found out from complaints to not censor comments on its Facebook page (Ibid.). OSU learned not to censor comments on its Facebook page. State University of New York at New Paltz used Facebook to allow future students to post questions and get replies from staff (Ibid.). A leader would follow the path of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin when implementing a video contest. The next step would be to allow students to share audio through podcasts.

Some higher educational institutions are using the podcast, a social media tool, to increase awareness and collaboration of scholarly thought between higher educational representatives and students within an online oral academic learning community (OOALC). The objective of this community would be to harness the know-how of each member in higher education institutions. Tacit knowledge or know-how would cover insight into research in which the community's members were involved. In higher educational institutions, the following subjects could drive the knowledge collection among presidents, boards of trustees, executive assistants to the president, staff, faculty and students: critical analysis of problems and issues in education, curriculum theory and design, education law, educational leadership, higher education in the United States, human resource management and development, integrating technology into the classroom curriculum, instructional technology and distance education trends, organization and governance, and organizational management and development (Weldon, 2007).

Through asynchronous electronic communication in the online oral academic learning community, text and audio posting in a SharePoint discussion site would enhance cooperative learning and problem-based learning. Discussion lists would allow members to view or listen to these postings when they had free time (Young, 2009).


Eduventures conducted a survey called "Benchmarking Online Operations: Snapshots of an Emerging Industry" (Parry, 2009). The survey stated that e-mail and text discussions incorporated within the online academic learning community were widely used in contrast to Web 2.0 platforms in social media for synchronous interaction with online academic learning community materials (Parry, 2009). This has started the movement to open academic learning communities where the student could experience asynchronous lessons left by the instructor with an embedded video within text discussions. This could also be seen through Google Wave, if used within the academic learning community (Ibid.).


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Huang, H. (2002). Toward constructivism for adult learners in online learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 33(1), 27-37.

Lipka, S. (2009). Colleges Using Technology to Recruit Students Try to Hang On to the Conversation. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Admissions-Offices-Struggle/47230/

Parry, M. (2009 October). Online Programs: Profits are There, Technological Innovation Is Not. Retrieved on October 21, 2009 from, http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Online-Programs-Profits-Are/8517

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Young, J. R. (2006). Apple releases free software for distributing class materials. Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(22), A36.