Assessing the evolution of social networks in e-learning
This research provides a new approach to analysing the evolutionary nature of social networks that are formed around computer-mediated-communication (CMC) in e-Learning courses. Aspects that have been studied include Online Communities and student communication e-Learning environments. The literature review performed identified weaknesses in the current methods of analyzing CMC activity. A proposed unfied analysis framework (FESNeL) was developed which enables us to explore students' interactions and to test a number of hypotheses. The creation of the framework is discussed in detail along with its major components (e.g. Social Network Analysis and Human Computer Interaction techniques). Furthermore this framework was tested on a case study of an online Language Learning Course. The novelty of this study lies in the investigation of the evolution of online social networks, filling a gap in current research which focuses on specific time stamps (usually the end of the course) when analysing CMC. In addition, the framework uses both qualitative and quantitative methods allowing for a complete assessment of such social networks. Results indicate that FESNeL is a useful methodological framework that can be used to assess student communication and interaction in web-based courses. In addition, through the use of this framework, several characteristic hypotheses were tested which provided useful insights about the nature of learning and communicating online.