I've been struggling with coming up with a representation of my thinking on the role of social software like 43Things in helping people set learning goals. Dr. Murphy suggested a concept map, so I attempted to create one -- it helped get me on track, but I'm still not getting further on the research methodology or theoretical framework. It's a bit of a brain dump. The addition of the LMS and ELGG were kind of afterthoughts as a way of comparing and integrating the type of "learning goals" that people are already familiar with (the kind instructional designers create for instructors...and students). Feedback on this first kick at the concept map is welcome (and needed).
I've also been collecting and organizing some data from 43 Things. I'm looking at the top 100 goals tagged with "learning" and seeing some obvious patterns emerge. This week I took a shot at categorizing the most popular ones, and it wasn't as difficult as I thought. For example, 29 of the top 100 (representing over 17,000 people) are either goals to learn specific languages (Spanish, French, etc) or more general ones like "learn another language". Another 5,000+ people want to learn to sing or play musical instruments (split into only nine goals). Nine goals focused on learning computer/internet programming languages or specific software are shared by over 4,000 people. And so goes the list, pulling together goals under titles like sports, cooking, driving, photography, and others, each with between 1,500 and 2,600 people's learning aspirations represented. I'm not sure why anyone would, but you can download the complete MS Excel file, which also links out to each individual goal.
So this is all very interesting, but I probably need to start focusing further. More on that later...
Update: Since it was after midnight at the end of a six-hour thesis session following a full day of work, I missed including the most obvious example of social software -- blogs. What do blogs have to do with learning goals? Here's the updated concept map with a few half-baked ideas on that.