Links-up is research project about how ‘Web 2.0’ technologies – e.g. social networking software – are changing the face of education and training for disadvantaged people.
The project puts together a picture of the ‘landscape’ of ‘Learning 2.0 for Inclusion’ by reviewing what has been done in the academic and research field, and reviews what has been done by practitioners working on the ground in projects that have been using Web 2.0 to work with disadvantaged groups.
It uses a series of ‘action research’ experiments, collaborating with ‘host’ projects working in the field, to evaluate the added contribution Web 2.0 can make to practices that use learning to support social inclusion.
The project activities are based on an ‘action learning’ approach. Links-up builds on the results of what has been done so far, through a review of the academic and research literature, and a ‘mapping’ of programmes and projects involved in ‘Learning 2.0 for Inclusion’. Read the Literature Review on the topic in our e-library .
We carried out 20 case studies of examples of ‘Learning 2.0 for Inclusion’ initiatives; highlighting success factors and barriers. The learning from these initial research activities will feed into this web-based platform. This resulted in an online ‘Innovation Laboratory’ a range of resources for further research and action research. You can download this publication here  or browse among the Cases  online.
These resources are now being used in five ‘action research experiments’ with ‘live’ initiatives currently providing support to disadvantaged groups. A set of supporting evaluation and dissemination activities will enable external stakeholders and public to join in the work of the project, by sharing their own experiences; commenting on the work of Links-up and taking part in online discussions:
Contributing on the Links-up website: by registering on the website, you can comment the cases and can add your observations which will then feed into the overall reflections. You may also join us in the discussion via
Links-Up has recently entered into the core phase of its action-research approach, by implementing on-the-field experiments, aiming analysing the three general Links-Up research questions through five “innovation laboratories”:
The laboratories have already started and will end in October-November 2011, though a follow-up will be carried out until the end of the whole project, according to the action-research approach adopted by Links-up.
Action-research focuses on gathering and analysing data to assess the nature and scope of changes brought about by an innovative intervention. The innovative intervention in our case is the use of Web 2.0 to supplement existing learning practices.
We want to deepen our understandings of how social Web is being used to support new forms of learning and new ways of supporting inclusion in real-life situations that reflect particular configurations of technological choices and attributes; learning scenarios, pedagogic models and tools; institutional arrangements; target users and objectives; outcomes.
The evaluation design adopts a multi-methodological approach combining qualitative and quantitative aspects through interviews, questionnaires, observation etc.., in order to examine ‘success’ and ‘failure’ factors and impact on individuals, organisations and communities.
Supporting the online dissemination effort, we also aim to carry out a series of ‘Learning Dialogues’ in which project partners will join with ‘action research’ partners and other groups and individuals working in this field to review and share what is being done and what is being learned: the next Learning Dialogue takes place during the 2011 EDEN Annual Conference in Dublin  during the open Links-up Workshop .