Social Networking Sites and the Edu-Social Experience in Higher Education Institutions
Hamdi, Nourhan Abdelsalam
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Social Networking Sites are becoming an integral part of modern educational activities. Therefore, this research aims to comprehensively investigate how the usage of SNSs affects 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 research intends to answer three research questions: (1) How do faculty and students view and use SNS in higher education institutions? (2) How does using SNS in higher education institutions affect the educational and social experience? (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) framework that was developed by Garrison et al. (2000) as an instructional design model for e-learning. Its purpose is to provide a framework for the use of computer-mediated communication in supporting educational experience. The CoI is defined as the intersection of social, cognitive, and teaching presences, and was adopted in this research to conceptualise educational experience. A case study strategy is employed, and mixed data collection and analysis methods were conducted over 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 analysing the 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 was analysed through descriptive statistics, correlation and regression models. Third, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 faculty members at CMT. Finally, five focus groups with 30 CMT students were conducted. The data obtained from online interaction and questionnaires was triangulated with the data gathered from interviews and focus groups. Results show that Facebook is extensively used as a non-formal learning tool for various college-related activities. Findings indicate that Facebook substantially satisfies social and teaching dimensions of the educational experience, but despite this, its use 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 Facebook affordances. Moreover, some issues related to students‘ and faculty members‘ privacy emerged as concerns for 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.
PhD Thesis - School of Management
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