Social Networking Sites and the Edu-Social Experience in Higher Education Institutions
Social Networking Sites arebecoming an integral part of modern educational activities. Therefore, this researchaims to comprehensively investigate how the usage of SNSsaffects the educational and social experience of students and educators in higher education. The study also explores opportunities and challenges facing SNS as an educational tool, and aims to bridge a technology-based factor, i.e., SNS, with social factors, across an educational theoretical framework. The researchintends to answer threeresearch questions: (1) Howdo faculty and students view and use SNS in higher education institutions? (2) How does using SNS in higher education institutions affect the educational and socialexperience? (3) What are the opportunities and challenges facing SNS, as a learning tool,in higher education institutions?The study is based on the theoretical foundations of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) frameworkthat was developed by Garrison et al. (2000)as aninstructional design modelfor e-learning. Its purpose is to provide a framework for the use ofcomputer-mediatedcommunicationin supporting educational experience.The CoI is defined as the intersection of social, cognitive, and teaching presences,and wasadopted in this research to conceptualise educational experience.Acase study strategyis employed,and mixed data collection and analysis methods were conductedover four consecutive stages. First, a web application was developed to extract the interaction that is taking place on the CMT Facebook group. The application is designed to help in classifying and analysingthe extracted data using content analysis techniques. Second, findings of the content analysis helped in devising structured questionnaires that were used to survey 525 students.This data wasanalysedthrough descriptive statistics, correlation and regression models. Third, semi-structured interviews were conducted with21faculty members at CMT.Finally,fivefocus groups with 30 CMT students were conducted.The data obtained fromonline interaction and questionnaires was triangulated with the data gathered from interviewsand focus groups. Results show that Facebookis extensively used as a non-formal learning toolfor various college-related activities. Findings indicatethat Facebook substantially satisfiessocial and teaching dimensions of the educational experience,but despite this,itsuse as a platform that supports intellectual discussions proved to be insufficient.The study shows interesting results, such as the appearance of implicit types of interaction,and how the nature of different courses affects its compatibility to be taught using Facebookaffordances. Moreover, some issues related to students‘and faculty members‘privacy emerged as concernsfor using Facebook in higher education. The study concludes with contributions to knowledge and to practice,and finally, recommendations were proposed to effectively use SNS in parallel with traditional learning management systems.
- School of Management