Designing the undesignable: Social software and control

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Social software, such as blogs, wikis, tagging systems and collaborative filters, treats the group as a first-class object within the system. Drawing from theories of transactional distance and control, this paper proposes a model of e-learning that extends traditional concepts of learner-teacher-content interactions to include these emergent properties of the group. It suggests that this feature of social software can facilitate an approach to e-learning that is qualitatively different from and capable of significantly augmenting traditional methods, with especial benefits for lifelong learners and those outside institutional boundaries. The paper goes on to explore some of the dangers and issues that need to be addressed in order for this new model to fulfill its promise, and to suggest a framework of principles to be used by designers of educationally-oriented social software.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-71
Number of pages12
JournalEducational Technology and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul. 2007


  • Control
  • Self-organization
  • Social software
  • Transactional distance
  • Web 2.0


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