Social Media as Technologies for Asynchronous Formal Writing and Synchronous Paragraph Writing in the South African Higher Education Contex

Social Media as Technologies for Asynchronous Formal Writing and Synchronous Paragraph Writing in the South African Higher Education Contex

Chaka Chaka (Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5174-6.ch009
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This chapter reports on a study—conducted in 2011—that employed two social media networks, Facebook and MXit, as educational tools at one university in South Africa. MXit is a South African-based social networking application. The study involved a cohort of second year Bachelor of Education in English undergraduate students at this university as its participants. The latter were required to utilize Facebook and MXit to engage in both asynchronous formal writing and synchronous paragraph writing, respectively. All this took place outside participants’ tutorial class schedule. In this study, participants were able to produce asynchronous formal writing samples in varying degrees using Facebook. Similarly, they were also able to produce synchronous written paragraphs using MXit even though some paragraphs displayed a high degree of linguistic textisms. Other affordances that these two social media technologies offered the participants in this study are: anytime, any day, and anywhere asynchronous and synchronous learning; asynchronous and synchronous feedback; virtual incidental learning; socially situated online learning; and Presence Awareness Learning (PAL). In conclusion, the study suggests that there are further affordances that these two social media technologies can offer higher education. These are: supplemental teaching and learning; cloud storage for teaching and learning materials (in the case of Facebook); virtual platforms for revision; digital platforms for micro-teaching and micro-learning (in respect of MXit); and value-added platforms for just-in-time mobile teaching and learning.
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Facebook, Mxit, Sociability, Socially Situated Online Learning And Presence Awareness Learning: An Overview

Facebook is a social networking site (SNS)—and thus a social media technology—that has in-built features such as: profile; wall; notifications; messages; friends; events; chat; groups; photos; nearby; options; search; and news feeds. In addition, it boasts adds-on like status, check-in, and timeline. These features enable registered users to perform the following functions online: invite friends; send and post messages, notifications or alerts; upload photos/pictures and video clips; upload documents; create groups; update status; search for persons and places; and text message in a real-time or in a delayed mode. As a social media technology, Facebook can, as pointed out by Davis III et al. (2011), be deployed on both computers (e.g., personal computers) and mobile devices (tablets and mobile phones). Moreover, it delivers messages through a user’s registered client email application.

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