Call for participation for Tutorial on SNA

Introduction to Social Network Analysis theory and its application to CSCL


Who is this tutorial designed for and what for?

You are a researcher from one of the various disciplines that CSCL has attracted. You are analysing CSCL situations, or designing and developing tools to support such collaborative learning situations. In your personal or professional live, you may have taken part in the early social networking wave on the Web2.0 by using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning, Blogger, or Diigo (among the most famous) and got some advantages (or not) from this high connectivity with others. But until now, you did not take time to get informed on Social Network Analysis as a conceptual framework that could give you a complementary interpretation of your data when they can be described as networks.

This tutorial has been designed by Christophe Reffay and Alejandra Martinez-Mones, both with wide experience in applying Social Network Analysis theory and techniques on collaboration analysis in CSCL situations. It is especially designed for researchers that want to take the opportunity of their presence at the CSCL conference to:

  • see and experiment the basic concepts of Social Network Analysis, 
  • decide whether Social Network Analysis can be applied in their own research, 
  • get general and CSCL specific references to deepen their knowledge and understanding on Social Network Analysis and its use in our field and 
  • experiment practical Social Network Analysis tools and techniques and get advice on what is available and on what start with.

What is Social Network Analysis?

Social Network Analysis is an original approach to analysis that focuses on the study of the relationships among members in a community or a group. It affords formal and intuitive ways of studying collaboration.

Social Network Analysis is a new conceptual and methodological perspective for the study of social groups. Although the foundational ideas emerged around 1930, it was not until 1970 when it started to appear as an interdisciplinary science, in parallel to the development of new theories and the generalization of computers. From then on, it has experienced a fast development, and it has been applied to studies in very diverse domains, such as organizational sciences, medicine, politics, information flow in Internet, complex systems and more recently, to the analysis of the social networking phenomena.

SNA has a relevant presence in our community, with an increasing number of papers that employ it in the last conferences since 1999. It has been used by CSCL researchers and practitioners for different goals, ranging from research on social structures, to mixed-evaluation methods, or as a tool to regulate students’ behaviour.

Besides this, SNA is based on formal methods expressed in mathematical terms. This means that it is well suited to be applied by automatic methods and tools. In fact, the construction of tools that exploit this potential to support evaluation or regulation is a research topic in itself in our community.

What will this tutorial look like?

The theoretical part will fully explain basic concepts (path, distance, diameter, density, cliques, clusters) and give an overview of the most important properties (centrality, betweenness, cohesion, multiplexity) and results (social capital, coalitions, collaboration patterns, the strength of the weak ties, etc.). These definitions and properties will be illustrated using well-known sociograms from the literature, as well as from new ones, created from scratch involving the participants of the tutorial. A second part will show how SNA has been used in CSCL research during the last twelve years. The afternoon will be more practical, interactive and participant centred. Each participant can bring his/her own dataset in order to work on it (eventually, send it to the organizers in advance). 4 datasets will be proposed by organizers to pairs of participants for transformation and analysis in order to promote interaction and different interpretations of the data. The practical session will finish with a discussion of possible future uses of SNA by the researchers, which should be inspired by the theoretical and practical work, as well as by the discussion about related work on applications of SNA to CSCL.  All suggestions may be discussed by the group to help each one to refine his/her project.

How to participate?

CSCL being a growing community, and Social Network Analysis increasingly converging on a number of subjects in our community, we expect that a lot of researchers would be interested in participating to this tutorial. So, in order to maximize the benefit of the audience, organizers suggest to participant candidates, to send a short presentation (20 lines) summarizing: their discipline, domain and research interest,  their objectives in participating in this tutorial, and  their ideas on why and how to (eventually) use SNA in their future work.

This should help organizers to adjust the tutorial level, language and content.

Please send your presentation to .

Important dates and Process

  • Notification of acceptance (OK/waiting list) : May 23rd, 2011 June 23rd, 2011.
  • Registration to One full day Pre-event CSCL conference: June 1st, 2011 June 27th, 2011.
  • In case of cancellation, waiting candidates may be recalled:  June 4th, 2011.
  • Essential: To get full benefit of this tutorial, based on practical manipulations, please bring your own laptop (+wifi) and power cable to the tutorial (July, 4th).
Last modified on May 31, 2011