Interactive Tools and Teaching Methods for Motivating Social Network Thinking

Interactive teaching methods help learners internalize key concepts about social networks, as well as apply these concepts in their social and professional lives. This 3-hour workshop introduces five different interactive teaching exercises developed at Northwestern University’s Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) research group. It trains attendees with the tools and techniques they need to run these exercises in classes, workshops, or organizations. The first exercise, 6-DOS (Six Degrees of Separation), helps participants consider their network awareness and strategies to enhance this awareness. The second exercise, PNR (Personal Network Report), guides participants through reflecting and strategizing on building their own networks in a professional or academic context. Third, the ERGM Builder exercise is an agent-based teaching tool designed to help participants understand and reason about statistical models of networks. Fourth, MDT (My Dream Team) is a platform for helping participants assemble teams and make new connections by leveraging search and algorithmic tools. Finally, RAD (Relational Analytics Dashboard) is a teaching case and demonstration to help students understand how network-enabled people analytics can shape decision making in organizations. We provide a live demonstration of each teaching exercise, as well as distribute slides/material and instructional guides for each exercise.

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