Key Success Factors of Using Social Media as a Learning Tool

Key Success Factors of Using Social Media as a Learning Tool

Alexander K. Kofinas (University of Bedfordshire, UK), Abdallah Al-Shawakbeh (University of Greenwich, UK) and Andriew S. Lim (Hotelschool The Hague, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0559-4.ch015


Students are dedicated and innovative users of Social Media; in the context of Higher Education they use such media in a pragmatic fashion to enhance their learning. Higher Education institutions are thus in a position to facilitate their students' learning by embedding Social Media in their teaching and learning pedagogy. This chapter will discuss the Key Success Factors of using Social Media as a coordinating, managing, and learning tool to enhance students' education in the context of Higher Education. The Key Success Factors are mapped along the communication and activity flows of the student's study enterprise as viewed from an Actor-Network Theory lenses.
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This research conducts a meta-analytical review to investigate the effect of social media (hereinafter SM) on the way people organise their work (Biasutti & El-Deghaidy, 2015; Dery, Tansley, & Hafermalz, 2014; Hanna, Rohm, & Crittenden, 2011; Maloney, Moss, & Ilic, 2014). In the context of Higher Education the SM revolution has had a profound effect on the way students think and process data, making it a challenge for them to succeed academically in the traditional teaching environment (Al-Shawabkeh & Lim, 2014; Dickie & Meier, 2015; Garcia, Elbeltagi, Brown, & Dungay, 2015; Karahan & Roehrig, 2014; Page & Reynolds, 2015; Prensky, 2001). According to literature these Digital Natives are native speakers of the virtual world as experienced via video games, mobiles, tablets and other conduits of the Internet (Donlan, 2014; Oeberst, Halatchliyski, Kimmerle, & Cress, 2014; Prensky, 2001; Schlicht, 2013).

This new generation of students has provoked the proliferation of technology resources that could be used by academic staff to facilitate the students’ learning experience (Benson, 2014). According to Shang et al. (2011) since the arrival of these tools, the processes of learning developed by students have changed as there are now opportunities for students to socialise, externalise, combine and internalise knowledge in novel ways. Traditional methods of teaching would fail to engage them, a truism that has been discussed at length in the literature (Dickie & Meier, 2015; Donnelly & Hume, 2015; Guerin, Carter, & Aitchison, 2015). These changes have had an impact on the Higher Education sector as well as the workplace graduates later enter.

To identify the characteristics of these digital natives, a number of typologies have been suggested; typologies that map the different types of internet and SM users. User typologies are typically based on distinct user behaviour instead of their goals or motivations (Brandtzaeg & Heim, 2011). The main aim of expanding into user typology in this chapter is to classify diverse SM usage behaviour into meaningful categories.

The typology presented in Table 1 represents different modes of social engagement and would be applicable in an online SM space. As SM is becoming increasingly important in the learning process, students can use the various SM platforms in order to enhance their academic activities, share their learning experience and interact with other students (users and peers) freely. SM technologies have both audio and visual functionality offered via various technology platforms, such as blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, media sharing space, Rich Site Summary feeds, micro-blogging sites, Facebook, and LinkedIn, all of which offer a support for social interactions and communication. With the help of information technologies, students are now able to socially interact within their peers while they are able to gain more knowledge and improve on their weaknesses as well as create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks (De Wever, Hämäläinen, Voet, & Gielen, 2015; Ha & Shin, 2014; Zheng, Niiya, & Warschauer, 2015). Higher level of interaction is the main link between SM, information technology, and learning.

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