When most people think of social networks, they think of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or similar sites, but there are many other types of social networks popping up on the web. Some of the fastest growing networks are designed specifically for education. These sites allow people to learn in a social context through discussion, file sharing, and collaboration. Here are 20 social learning networks to visit in your spare time.
LearnCentral – LearnCentral is an open environment that is half social network and half learning community. The site can be used to create courses, host meetings, connect with other education enthusiasts, and find learning resources
Udemy – Udemy encourages members to teach and learn online using the site’s many free tools and applications. Members can create their own online courses or search for courses that have been created and posted by other people.
Academici – This web-based site for academics and knowledge workers makes it easy to network, collaborate, and conduct commerce online. Members can post articles, share resources, and much more.
Academia.edu – Academia.edu is an online community that helps academics connect with colleagues and follow the latest research. Members can also share their own research and be notified when someone searches for them on Google.
Campusbug – One of the original social learning networks, Campusbug provides students and lifelong learners with tools they can use to network and educate themselves on a variety of topics.
iMantri – iMantri is a peer-to-peer community for people who are seeking mentors or offering coaching in a particular area. Members can use the site’s tools to assess their competencies and find people who are either willing to help or in need of help.
Smart.fm – Smart.fm is an education platform and online community that relies on personalized learning algorithms to help people achieve their academic goals. The site helps users establish goals, create a study schedule, and track learning progress.
Grockit – This online interactive learning environment uses social gaming technology and a Web 2.0 infrastructure to help students master academic skills and prepare for standardized tests. Grockit members can study alone or in groups.
Loomagoo – Created by Students at Loyola University New Orleans, Loomagoo is a social network for students who want to share notes and other learning materials with each other. The site also allows students to buy and sell old textbooks and other school supplies.
wePapers – The goal of wePapers is to create the world’s largest online study group. Members can use the site to share knowledge, find lecture notes and study guides, and store papers and research work.
Pronetos – Also known as the Professor’s Network, Pronetos welcomes academics of every discipline. Members can share papers and course materials, connect with other scholars, and locate recent field research.
We the Teachers – We the Teachers caters to educators but welcomes anyone who has an interest in learning or teaching. Members of this social network can share lesson plans and classroom resources as well as tools for creating games, puzzles, and other activities.
ResearchGate – ResearchGate is a professional network for scientists. The site has more than 400,000 members who collaborate using the site’s free applications. Members can also upload papers, share scientific news, read the latest publications, and search for job opportunities.
WiserEarth – WiserEarth is a social network for sustainability. Site features include community forums where members can collaborate or engage in discussion, an international directory of non-governmental and socially responsible organizations, and a classification of issues related to social justice and environmental restoration.
WriterFace – This social network is intended for beginning writers, professional writers, and other people who simply have an interest in writing. WriterFace is also open to literary agents, editors, librarians, and anyone else who works in the media or publishing industry. Members can network with each other, market themselves, sell their work, and much more.
GoodReads – GoodReads is a social network for booklovers who want to share what they have been reading and get book recommendations from other people. Members can also form book clubs, play trivia games, and browse famous quotes.
Livemocha – Livemocha is the largest social network for language learners. The site has more than 6 million members who help each other learn English, Spanish, French, Hindi, German, and Mandarin Chinese.
Busuu – Like Livemocha, Busuu is an online community for people who want to practice their language skills. Popular site features include an integrated video-chat-application, writing exercises that can be corrected by native speakers, review quizzes, and learning units. Busuu supports several languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
Brazen Careerist – Created for Gen Y professionals, this social site emphasizes professional networking but also provides members with the chance to learn how to create a resume, develop a base of solid contacts, showcase ideas, and manage their career.
Tutpup – Tutpup is an award-winning social learning network that allows young learners to come together online to play fun, educational games. The site is free of advertising and exceeds the information security and privacy requirements of the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Game categories include spelling, basic math, times tables, and algebra.
This is a guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School.
I am an avid lifelong learner who writes and speaks frequently on the critical role of learning in our fast-changing world.