Social Media in Education: Gains in Student Learning and Instructor Best Practices

Social Media in Education: Gains in Student Learning and Instructor Best Practices

Dena F. Rezaei (Texas A&M University, USA) and Nicola L. Ritter (Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3949-0.ch012
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Abstract

Although social media is prevalent among individual use, instructors and students have not fully embraced social media as tool for the classroom. The focus of the chapter is to identify and identify ways in which social media, as a complementary pedagogical tool to traditional techniques, contributes to create an innovative, collaborative educational environment for students. Different categories and themes, as well as best practices have been identified as the ways of improving students' learning as a result of utilizing social media. Social media helps students in their learning through facilitating active learning, promoting affective learning outcomes, inspiring creativity and innovation, supporting team-based work, and creating a community of learners. Social media enhances professional development and increases performance and grades. Finally, the authors identify best practices for implementing social media in educational setting during the different phases of instructional design process.
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Background

Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, wikis, and social book marks are some of the most cited technologies or tools in web 2.0 that have affected education field in many ways like knowledge sharing and training (Wang, 2012). Acknowledging the low actual human interaction when using virtual environments and technological tools among aforementioned tools, social media provides a place for more interaction among individual who may or may not physically dispersed from each other (Wang, 2012). According to many studies (Aral, Dellarocas, & Godees, 2013; Lin & Lazar, 2013), social media has changed the way of communication and knowledge sharing.

Twitter, the second most popular social media in the world (26% internet users in the US), currently has 284 million monthly active users, and 500 million Tweets are sent per day (Twitter.com). Statistics showed a forecast of the number of active Twitter users in the United States from 2012 to 2018. In 2015, the microblogging site is projected to reach 56.9 million monthly active users in the United States. In 2014, Twitter obtained 48.2 million users. From all over the world, it was found that 50.99 percent of worldwide Twitter users were located in the United States. Lin and Lazar (2013) developed a visualization tool “Whisper” to show how, when, where and what kinds of information have been spread out through Twitter. They believed that tracing the tweets in a real-time manner could help us to detect the opinion leader and identify the popularity of an idea.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaborative Media: “Collaborative media is about participation . . . most often it takes the form of communicating, connecting, and collaborating with anyone anywhere, anytime” (Jue, Alcade-Marr, & Kassotakis, 2009, p. 4).

Affective Learning: The affective domain is one of three domains in Bloom's Taxonomy, with the other two being the cognitive and psychomotor The affective domain includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes ( Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956) .

Community of Learners: A community of learners “can be defined as a group of people who share values and beliefs and who actively engage in learning from one another-learners from teachers, teachers from learners, and learners from learners. They thus create a learning-centered environment in which students and educators are actively and intentionally constructing knowledge together. Learning communities are connected, cooperative, and supportive. Peers are interdependent in that they have joint responsibility for learning and share resources and points of view, while sustaining a mutually respectful and cohesive environment” (Learning and the Adolescent Mind, p.1).

Best Practices: A method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. Best practices are a set of guidelines, ethics or ideas that represent the most efficient or prudent course of action.

Quality Matters: Quality Matters is an international organization that is recognized as a leader in quality assurance for online education. Quality Matters has developed a set of rubrics and a peer review process to evaluate the design of fully online and blended courses.

Active Learning: Active learning is “anything that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing” ( Bonwell & Eison, 1991 , p. 2). Felder & Brent (2009) define active learning as “anything course-related that all students in a class session are called upon to do other than simply watching, listening and taking notes” (p. 2).

Social media: Social media employ mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms via which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content ( Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy, & Silvestre, 2011 , p.2).

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