Thursday, July 23, 2009

Interview with Tina Sartori, Turning Technologies, on Social Learning Communities: Innovators in E-Learning

Finding the best way to incorporate social learning communities within an e-learning environment can be challenging. Dr. Tina Sartori, Turning Technologies, has addressed the challenge with a combination of robust instructional design and innovative technology.

Welcome to an interview with Sartori, who addresses how to develop social learning communities that are effective in a variety of e-learning settings.

What is your name/title and your relation to distance and e-learning?

Dr. Tina Sartori - Educational Consultant, Turning Technologies
My relation with distance and e-learning is multi-faceted and is grounded in the theories and research of Lave and Wenger. A major component of my doctoral degree in Instructional Technology at Pepperdine University focused on social learning communities and the program itself was a distance learning hybrid format. I worked with the Georgia Department of Education as a K-12 online course developer using Desire to Learn and as a college professor, I utilized Blackboard as for course content. Currently, I develop online professional learning courses in Moodle which are located at Additionally, as the educational consultant for Turning Technologies, I work with schools and districts to promote social learning communities with their educators.

What is Turning Technologies, and what do they create?

Turning Technologies, LLC develops interactive response systems utilizing the latest software and hardware tools available and transforms them into state-of-the-art applications for audience and student response. We are focused on school improvement and student achievement, and have developed products, programs, professional development and partnerships that have had positive outcomes in a number of educational settings.

How would you define a social learning community?

A social learning community is a community of practice that promotes learning from a social perspective. Social learning communities are both complex and dynamic with learning stemming from both the convergence of the competence and experience of its members who range from newbies, to old-timers. A strong sense of belonging, member interactivity and the collective development of community norms, artifacts, knowledge and tools are critical components of these social units.

How does a social learning community work, at least as you envision it?

A social learning communities are generally cultivated out of learning should include elements such as membership, leadership, connectivity and all necessary tools to promote the community. However, true social learning communities are fluid and are driven by the members of the community itself. Healthy social learning communities include both organized constructed learning opportunities as well as open trajectories that allow for flexible community evolution.

How does Turning Technologies create social learning communities? Where? Under what conditions?

Turning Technologies' users are passionate and innovative. Shared ideas and strategies improve the quality and effectiveness of learning. TurningTalk is our online learning community located at and is dedicated to providing an open forum for the discussion and sharing of these valuable insights. Furthermore, Turning Technologies hosts onsite user conferences that allow for important face to face interaction between members.

What are the best ways to use social learning communities to achieve learning objectives and to perform well on assessments?

Social learning communities can be leveraged to achieve learning objectives in a variety of ways. The predominant method is through collaborative knowledge creation, management and sharing. The community can merge individual and company capabilities through dialogue and relationship building. The collaborative nature of learning communities allows for both concrete and tactic knowledge exchange which generally leads to accelerated achievement of learning objectives. Increasing performance on assessments is fostered through sharing of resources, best practices and the ability of learning communities to provide mentorship relationships through the co-mingling of new users, mid-level users and advanced users.

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