Networks in Education: A Travelogue Through Five Decades

Mohammed Saqr, Oleksandra Poquet, Sonsoles López-Pernas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


For over five decades, researchers have used network analysis to understand educational contexts, spanning diverse disciplines and thematic areas. The wealth of traditions and insights accumulated through these interdisciplinary efforts is a challenge to synthesize with a traditional systematic review. To overcome this difficulty in reviewing 1791 articles researching the intersection of networks and education, this study combined a scientometric approach with a more qualitative analysis of metadata, such as keywords and authors. Our analysis shows rapidly growing research that employs network analysis in educational contexts. This research output is produced by researchers in a small number of developed countries. The field has grown more recently, through the surge in the popularity of data-driven methods, the adoption of social media, and themes as teacher professional development and the now-declining MOOC research. Our analysis suggests that research combining networks and educational phenomena continues to lack an academic home, as well as remains dominated by descriptive network methods that depict phenomena such as interpersonal friendship or patterns of discourse-based collaboration. We discuss the gaps in existing research, the methodological shortcomings, the possible future directions and most importantly how network research could help advance our knowledge of learning, learners, and contribute to our knowledge and to learning theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32361-32380
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Social network analysis
  • bibliometrics
  • education
  • learning analytics
  • network science


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