Using Social Networks to Enhance Teaching and Learning Experiences in Higher Learning Institutions
Source: Innovations in Education and Teaching International, Vol. 51, No. 6, 595–606, 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The current study was undertaken with two main goals. Firstly, the study aims to identify the factors that affect the use of social networking sites (SNSs) in e-learning, particularly among students and lecturers in higher learning institutions in Malaysia. Secondly, the study also intends to design and develop a social e-learning tool based on the identified factors.
A total of 455 students and lecturers from higher learning institutions in Malaysia participated in this study.
Data were collected through structured questionnaires prepared based on the Push–Pull–Mooring framework.
The positive associations show that the respondents agreed that using SNS for academic reasons is beneficial to teaching and learning, social networking results in more teaching and learning benefits, the easier it is to use SNSs, the more benefits one obtain by using them in teaching and learning and the more convenient SNSs are, the more benefits they provide to teaching and learning activities. Finally, it is also observed that the more the respondents agree to the current e-learning problems, the more they feel using SNSs will benefit their teaching and learning activities.
Overall five factors were revealed to be significant determinants to Teaching and Learning Benefits, namely Academic Reasons, Convenience, Social Networking, Ease of Use and E-Learning Perception.
Academic Reasons emerging as the main determinant in the current study. SNSs provide improved communication and the establishment of a sense of community among students and lecturers. Furthermore, relationships built on SNS between students and lecturers may improve communication and interaction, leading to a better teaching and learning environment. SNSs are meant for socialising and networking, however it is engaging to know that the students and lecturers in this study felt positively about the role of Social Networking in Teaching and Learning Benefits. Personal communication between students and lecturers develops trust, and hence allows for a more productive and effective learning environment. In short, it can be said that Social Networking helps to promote exchanges between students and lecturers that are related to formal educational objectives. Similarly, factors such as Convenience and Ease of Use are also associated with many SNSs, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Finally, the emergence of E-Learning Perception as one of the determinants clearly indicates that the majority of the respondents are dissatisfied with the current e-learning platforms. E-learning tools provide lack of interaction among its users. Interaction plays an important role in e-learning, and SNSs provide the opportunity for students and lecturers to do so.
The exploratory study revealed that the majority of the respondents felt positively about using SNSs in e-learning. Therefore, by taking advantage of SNSs’ key features, Book2U – aptly named by integrating (Face)Book, T(witter) and You (Tube) was developed by taking all the key factors into consideration, except for E-learning Perception.
Overall, the findings of the study revealed factors such as Social Networking, Ease of Use, Convenience and Ease of Use influence the use of SNSs in e-learning. Dissatisfaction towards current e-learning platforms (E-Learning Perception) also motivates the students and lecturers to seek alternative measures. In short, it can be concluded that the majority of the students and lecturers felt positively about the use of SNSs in e-learning. This was further proven with the implementation of Book2U, with the majority of the respondents perceiving Book2U as simple and appealing, and providing room for socialising and supporting academic learning and knowledge sharing. Finally, the study found that the integration of the various features of SNSs positively affects teaching and learning activities among students and lecturers in higher learning institutions. Therefore, policy-makers and universities particularly should look into the possibility of using social e-learning tools, which take advantage of the current popular SNSs.
The results revealed five significant factors: E-Learning Perception, Ease of Use, Convenience, Academic Reasons and Social Networking. These factors (except for E-Learning Perception) were then used to develop Book2U, a social e-learning tool integrating various functions of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Book2U was tested by a small group of respondents and results found them to be highly satisfied with the features provided. It is believed that the findings in this study can be used to promote the use of SNSs to improve teaching and learning, and also to further enhance communication and collaboration experiences between students and lecturers.