Social Media Strategies for Seamless Learning: Approaches and Metrics

Social Media Strategies for Seamless Learning: Approaches and Metrics

Stefanie Panke (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA), Christian Kohls (TH Köln, Germany) and Birgit Gaiser (Helmholtz Gemeinschaft, Germany)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1692-7.ch014
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The chapter discusses best practice approaches and metrics for evaluation that support seamless learning with social media on three different organizational levels: (1) the learning organization, (2) the learning program/curriculum, and (3) the individual teacher/learner. Initially, we establish how social media and seamless learning are connected, by sketching a brief overview of the history and evolution of each concept. We draw upon the theoretical frameworks of social learning theory, transfer learning (bricolage), and educational design patterns to elaborate upon different ideas for ways in which social media can support seamless learning. To exemplify how social media can support seamless learning we follow up with presenting three case studies on the organizational level, on the program level, and on the individual level. Each case study analyzes the context for the use of social media, followed by a discussion of how social media serves as a catalyst for seamless learning.
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For at least two decades, contemporary educational research has advocated the blurring of boundaries between formal and informal learning to create seamless learning experiences, a term created by Kuh (1996). Seamless learning refers to the integration of learning experiences across formal and informal contexts, individual and social spaces, as well as face-to-face and online settings (Wong & Looi, 2011; Wong, Milrad, & Specht, 2015). The emphasis on student centered learning focuses the institutional mission on enabling learning by whatever means are available, convenient and comfortable for the learner (Bell, 2000). As such the idea of seamless learning is closely related to the concept of ‘Personal Learning Environment’ (PLE).

Personal learning environments (PLE) are ‘an idea of how individuals approach the task of learning’ (Educause, 2009; Couros, 2010) and describe ‘the activities and milieu of a modern online learner’ (Martindale & Dowdy, 2010). PLEs comprise tools, communities, and services learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals. They migrate the management of learning from the institution to the learner (Downes, 2007). Though technology plays an important role in facilitating one’s PLE, the specific tools and environments may shift over time: As smart phones and tablets are more and more widespread, the concept has moved away from centralized, server-based solutions to distributed and portable mobile apps.

In the era of Web 2.0, ubiquitous mobile technologies and social media, borders and constraints for learning scenarios have become blurred and formerly acknowledged concepts need to be redefined. Social media in particular, offers a fruitful ground for the idea of seamlessness to flourish.

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