Unbundled Learning: Online Social Networks for Learning and Support in Vulnerable Populations
As human nature is experience-dependent, social conditions will either hinder or enhance human learning, health, and overall well-being since individuals are continuously embedded within and among networks of social relations and interactions. Social support is critical in aiding patients with chronic conditions (i.e., heart failure and transplant, PTSD and anxiety, and now COVID long haulers) to self-manage their conditions. As the majority of time patients spend is outside formal clinical contexts, there is considerable opportunity to research how social media and access to just-in-time peer support (enabled by Facebook, MS Teams) affects the education and support of vulnerable populations with physical and mental health conditions. To date, the majority of literature in the chronic disease spectrum focuses on provider or institutionally-driven education and support communities and there is very little research on the use of social media and learning platforms for facilitating education and social support amongst clinically vulnerable individuals.
The Unbundled Learning project is a newly established research program that examines how individuals utilize influence processes in informal social networks for education and support and how these individuals leverage their connections to “powerful others” to better cope with life circumstances. Specifically, how individuals utilize social media to become learner-agents in the management of their chronic conditions.