Visualising social networks


3D Social Networking Attributed to ‘’ 

This blog is based on a paper by Bakharia et al. (2009) Social networks adapting pedagogical practice: SNAPP.

What can be revealed by a network diagram of students discussions?

  1. identify disconnected and therefore at risk students
    this is an early warning system and could be used to support students with low levels of engagement and to encourage engagement within the broader group by giving additional support.
    potential problems – the learner may not appreciate the tutor intervention and feel pressurised within the learning environment with the risk of further disconnection
  2. identify key information brokers
    individual learners could identify key people in their network and connect with them, ‘follow’ them and discuss issues and debate in the knowledge they will learn from interaction with a broader group of students
    potential problems – key information brokers may not broker the ‘effective’ debate and may be more vocal on issues other than those which are learning related
  3. identify potentially high and low performing students so learning interventions can be planned
    tutors can design appropriate interventions, allowing a tailored support approach.
    potential problems – learners may resent being ‘monitored’ and being selected for additional support.
  4. indicate the extent to which a learning community is developing
    harness the learning created in a community of practice and create deeper meaning for students
    potential problems – assumes the creation of a learning community is positive for everyone in the group and may influence peer and tutor perception of the commitment of learners who contribute least.
  5. provide before and after snapshot of interactions occurring pre and post learning interventions
    learning designers can ‘test’ whether the learning intervention met the learning objectives and learners can assess their progress
    potential problems – the number rather than the quality of interactions is revealed.
  6. provide timely data for students to benchmark their performance and engagement against peers
    learners can see how they are performing in relation to their peers and seek further support if required
    potential problems – the level of interaction rather than the quality of interaction is revealed, also this may impact on a learner’s confidence level with the result they stop contributing altogether.



Bakharia, A., Heathcote, E. and Dawson, S. (2009) ‘Social networks adapting pedagogical practice: SNAPP’ in Atkinson, R.J. and McBeath, C. (eds) Same Places, Different Spaces, Proceedings ascilite 2009, 26th Annual ascilite International Conference, Auckland 6–9 December 2009, Auckland, The University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology and Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ascilite); also available online at (Accessed 17th July 2016)