Cloud-Based Social Media as LMS: A Fit for STEM in Developing and Newly Developed Economies

Cloud-Based Social Media as LMS: A Fit for STEM in Developing and Newly Developed Economies

Matthew A. Eichler (Texas State University, USA) and Las Johansen Balios Caluza (Leyte Normal University, Philippines)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9924-3.ch007
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Abstract

Social media, with its ubiquitous characteristics and availability for use throughout the world, may serve as a replacement for many features typically associated with learning management systems (LMS). These systems are generally free to use, rely on robust servers with high speed connections, and are already widely used on mobile phones and other devices, unlike learning management systems, which are typically used for the duration of educational experience and then no longer available to students. Due to low budgets available for IT, universities in developing and newly developed countries may consider alternatives to the LMS, which is both expensive, and relies either on paid services or the provisioning of servers. Educators should consider potential negative aspects and positive aspects of the use of these tools in higher education before adopting for widespread use. STEM learning may be especially enhanced through the use of social networking services (SNS) as LMS.
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Background

As a platform, Facebook was started as a college-student-only social networking service in 2004. As of the last report in September 2014, Facebook had over 1.35 billion active users monthly (Facebook, n.d.). Facebook is an online application comprising a social network. Individuals use Facebook for multiple purposes, including instantaneous communication, delayed communication through an e-mail-like system, the sharing of pictures, developing of networks of “friends”, and the use of closed and open group spaces. Communication can be developed in ways that are open to other users in the user’s network of friends, to everyone who might view the user’s profile page, to a closed or open group, or to an individual privately. Newly added features include video and audio conferencing between users. Facebook can be integrated with personal computers, mobile phones, and tablet devices—thus being persistent and constantly a part of the user’s daily activities, as long as appropriate connectivity to the Internet is maintained. The flexibility of the feature set, along with no charge for use, has resulted in rapid proliferation of Facebook into the fabric of the user’s online social experiences. What is unique about Facebook is the ability for users to visualize their connections with others, with the platform even suggesting others you may want to “friend”1, which include those users with many of the same “friends” (boyd & Ellison, 2007).

As a cloud-based platform, users access many of Facebook’s features through standard web browsers, moving toward a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model (Hassan, 2011). Provided the proliferation of features that are useful to the exchange of information, files, and photos, Facebook has begun to resemble a unified communications platform, with uses in business, education, and social lives (Riemer & Taing, 2009). Indeed, the blurring of the boundaries between uses in business, education, and social lives, has reflected the changes to social life as a result of the use of Internet-based communications, being “always on”. Facebook lives in contrast to traditional learning management systems (LMSs).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Resident: Generally younger, “see the Web as a place…in which there are clusters of friends and colleagues whom they can….share information about life and work” ( White & Le Cornu, 2011 , Section IV.2). Residents have grown up with widespread Internet-based technology and have little basis for distinguishing “real life” from “online”.

Learning Management System: Web-based software application (examples: Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard, Canvas) that provides for the delivery and management of e-learning. May include features such as quizzes, content delivery, chatting, e-mail, grade books, assignment submission and return, etc.

Community Of Inquiry: Framework by Garrison (2011) for research in e-learning, suggesting three areas of concern: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence.

Social media: Web-based tools that allow for connections between individuals for creation, sharing, and communication based on virtual communities.

Developing Countries: Nations with a lower standard of living, less developed industrialized base, and low human development index.

Facebook: A popular social networking service, originally started with college students in the United States of America. Used worldwide, 1.35 billion each month at last report. Includes a variety of tools.

E-Learning: Education or training that is provided using electronic technologies, such as multimedia hosted on the Internet.

Visitor: Visitors “see the Web as a set of tools which deliver or manipulate content” ( White & Le Cornu, 2011 , Section IV.1). Typically older, less familiar with Internet-based social networks, use the Internet as a place to get work done and then leave.

Social Networking Service: Software product, hosted on the Internet, which provides for the formation of connections of groups of individuals for sharing, communication, and linking between virtual profiles, which are representations of the individual (Examples: Facebook, Twitter, Academia.edu, LinkedIn).

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