Social Media's Potential to Facilitate Dialogic Learning

Social Media's Potential to Facilitate Dialogic Learning

Jin Yang (University of Memphis, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch068
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Abstract

The chapter explores the use of social media in educational settings and assesses its potential as a learning tool in facilitating deep learning and knowledge development. Guided by Vygotsky and Bakhtin's theory of dialogic learning, the chapter argues, by discussion, that social media may facilitate deep learning and knowledge development due to social media's convenient discursive space and heightened interactivity. Specifically, social media's discursive space may provide a platform that is egalitarian and democratic to all who have access to it. The breakdown of traditional communication barriers in this discursive space can be significant in engaging students in dialogic learning. Social media's heightened interactivity embodied in social, procedural, expository, explanatory, and cognitive dimensions may shorten psychological distances, lighten class-managing load, expedite learning materials' delivery, expand the learning space without time constraint, and encourage cross-pollination of ideas and viewpoints. The chapter discusses the profound opportunity that social media may have to enhance knowledge development.
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Introduction

Social media or social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and wikis enable people to socialize, organize, learn, play, and engage in commerce (Rheingold, 2010). Web-based services allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). In 2012, 67% of Internet users use social networking sites (Duggan & Brenner, 2013). Specifically, 67% use Facebook, 16% use Twitter, 15% use Pinterest, 13% Instagram and 6% Tumblr (Duggan & Brenner, 2013). A late 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that Internet users under 50 are particularly likely to use a social networking site, and those 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic cohort to do so (83%) (Duggan & Brenner, 2013).

Though designed for social uses, social media is being adopted and utilized in education settings including higher education (Roblyer, McDaniel, Webb, Herman, & Witty, 2010). Mazer, Murphy and Simonds (2007) studied Facebook use among students and faculty and found, “this network is increasingly being used not only by students but also by faculty” (p. 3). However, students are much more likely than faculty to use Facebook and are significantly more open to the possibility of using Facebook and similar technologies to support classroom work (Roblyer et al., 2010). There are signs suggesting educators are being encouraged to use Twitter to enable interactivity, excite learners, and foster greater student participation (Kassens-Noor, 2012). Just as the print technologies and literacies shaped the Enlightenment, the social media technologies and literacies will shape the cognitive, social, and cultural environments of the 21st century (Rheingold, 2010).

Some early studies on the adoption of social media in higher education have yielded negative findings such as the distractive nature of social media, copyright violations, subversion of asymmetrical relations of power between academics and students, and disruptive technological innovations leading to short attention span (Rambe, 2012b). However, these unintended consequences and inconclusive findings have downplayed the potential of social media to enhance meaningful interactions to facilitate deep learning.

The purpose of this chapter is twofold. First, it intends to review literature on dialogic learning in the context of the essence of learning so that an outline of the theoretical framework of dialogic learning can be presented and a basic understanding of dialogic learning can be established. Second, it aims to discuss how social media have the potential to facilitate dialogic learning from social media’s two closely related aspects: discursive space and interactivity. Guided by the constructivist or social-cultural approach to learning and knowledge development that knowledge is learned best from participating in discussions and from contributing to the knowledge generating, the study proposes and discusses the thesis that social media have the potential to facilitate dialogic learning and thus assist the accomplishment of educational goals and objectives.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Explanatory Dimension of Interactivity: It is one of the five communicative interactions evident in the teaching environment that refers to teacher using student responses to explain knowledge and develop content ( Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997 AU29: The citation "Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997" matches the reference "Oliver, McLoughlin, 1997", but the capitalization is different. ).

Dialogic Learning: Learning might be most meaningful when the material under consideration (facts, information, ideas) is not simply ‘transmitted’ from teacher to student, but is placed into a discursive space which allows for knowledge-generating discussion resulting, potentially, in higher levels of understanding ( Stenton, 2010 ). Plaza (2010) described dialogic learning as learners reach deep understandings of subject knowledge and engage in processes of personal and social transformation through dialogues that are egalitarian.

Social Dimension of Interactivity: It is one of the five communicative interactions evident in the teaching environment that refers to the teacher-student talk establishing and developing rapport ( Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997 AU32: The citation "Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997" matches the reference "Oliver, McLoughlin, 1997", but the capitalization is different. ).

Interactivity: The conception of interactivity can be found in various subjects and disciplines. This study is more oriented towards the communication discipline. First advanced by Rafaeli (1988) , interactivity is defined as to be found in the exchanges between parties. It is the condition of communication in which simultaneous and continuous exchanges occur, and these exchanges carry a social, binding force ( Rafaeli & Sudweeks, 1997 ). Interactivity is “the extent to which communication reflects back on itself, feeds on and responds to the past” ( Newhagen & Rafaeli, 1996 ).

Social media: Social media are Web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system ( Boyd & Ellison, 2007 ).

Cognitive Dimension of Interactivity: It is one of the five communicative interactions evident in the teaching environment that refers to teacher providing constructive feedback to a student response causing the student to reflect and to consider an alternative perspective/reality ( Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997 AU28: The citation "Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997" matches the reference "Oliver, McLoughlin, 1997", but the capitalization is different. ).

Procedural Dimension of Interactivity: It is one of the five communicative interactions evident in the teaching environment that refers to the teacher-student dialogs involving information exchange on course requirements and procedures ( Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997 AU31: The citation "Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997" matches the reference "Oliver, McLoughlin, 1997", but the capitalization is different. ).

Expository Dimension of Interactivity: It is one of the five communicative interactions evident in the teaching environment that refers to student or teacher demonstrating knowledge or skill in response to a direct request from another ( Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997 AU30: The citation "Oliver & Mcloughlin, 1997" matches the reference "Oliver, McLoughlin, 1997", but the capitalization is different. ).

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