Malaysian University Students' Preferences of Social Media and LMS in Academia

Malaysian University Students' Preferences of Social Media and LMS in Academia

Shaidatul Akma Adi Kasuma (School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia), Mohamad Saifudin Mohamad Saleh (School of Communication, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia), Ayuni Akhiar (School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia) and Yanny Marliana Baba Ismail (School of Material and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJVPLE.2018010104

Abstract

Academic online portals of Learning Management System (LMS) and social media have become a necessity in many higher education institutions to tie classroom meetings with learning resources. This study examines Malaysian university students' preferences of social media and LMS for academic purposes. A set of questionnaires was distributed to 269 students at four Malaysian universities. The results show that the students preferred both social media and e-learning for academic purposes, although their interest in social media was slightly higher than that of e-learning. The students had a higher regard for the academic content shared with them, than the design of a social media or e-learning platform. This suggests that both social media and e-learning are highly suitable to be used in academic environment to cater to students' need for formal-informal learning.
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Introduction

The many fields of education have been benefited from the developments and advances of digital technologies (Xodabande, 2017) from the now unfashionable Learning Management Systems (LMS) to the more contemporary social media.

Before the emergence of social media, LMS were used as the main online portal that connect teachers-resources-students in facilitating the process of teaching and learning. LMS are often formally linked to an institution and are used to disseminate announcements, share information and learning content, organise classes, and conduct discussions on an assigned task (Wang, Woo, Quek, Yang, & Liu, 2012). Students who are enrolled in a course will automatically be registered to the LMS portal. Although this is an advantage in itself (Hamat, Azman, Mohd Noor, Abu Bakar, & Mohd Nor, 2014), the traditional LMS system no longer meet the Instagram and Twitter generation of students, who thrived on user-generated content (El-Bakry & Mastorakis, 2009). As such, new innovative technology is now added to e-learning environment in catering to both formal and informal settings, as well as various disciplines. For example, the Integrated English Language Literacy System (iELLS) was introduced in a Malaysian university as an improvement from the old e-learning (the common term for LMS in Malaysia) system that neglected a design for language learning (Hamat et al., 2014). There are a variety of commercial and free LMS platforms available, and the famous ones are Blackboard and Moodle. Many universities in Malaysia use Moodle (e-learning) as it is affordable and versatile in performing many academic functions.

Social media, on the other hand, are often free, informal, easily accessible by internet users, and are not linked to any specific institutions. Globally popular social media of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are used by a high demography of university students, whom agreed that they accessed Facebook first thing when they go online (Akarsu & Darıyemez, 2014). On social media, students create and maintain identities via public or semi-public profiles, communicate with one another, share information and simplify collaboration (Salahshour Rad, Nilashi, Mohamed Dahlan, & Ibrahim, 2017). Accordingly, new learning theories are constructed in support of the contemporary technology used in academic environment, such as the social presence theory (i.e. learners project themselves online and participate in online activities) and connectivism (i.e. learning process occurs within individuals and also environments of diverse elements) (Niu, 2017).

As students spend most of their social and academic time being online, the different orientations of the LMS and social media (i.e. formal-informal, structured-unstructured and academic-social), are of interests to many educators and scholars. Their comparable components, and functional strengths and weaknesses attracted research that examine their usage in assisting students’ learning. A significant conclusion was that students preferred social media to LMS for education purposes as the former afford personalisation, make convenient collaboration and create a sense of belonging (Lim, 2010; Thoms & Eryilmaz, 2014). Social media, are however, imperfect, as they were never designed for academic use. Thus, their incorporation into academia has always been bugged by the main issue of privacy concern, among others. For example, a group of students used Facebook as a LMS for academic purposes by conducting online discussions and managing courses. Although the activities were well-received, the students felt compromised in privacy and safety, as well as experienced difficulties in sharing and uploading files as well as scattered discussions (Wang et al., 2012).

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