The space for social media in structured online learning

by Gilly Salmon, et al; Distance Educator

In this paper, we explore the benefits of using social media in an online educational setting, with a particular focus on the use of Facebook and Twitter by participants in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed to enable educators to learn about the Carpe Diem learning design process. We define social media as digital social tools and environments located outside of the provision of a formal university-provided Learning Management System. We use data collected via interviews and surveys with the MOOC participants as well as social media postings made by the participants throughout the MOOC to offer insights into how participants’ usage and perception of social media in their online learning experiences differed and why. We identified that, although some participants benefitted from social media by crediting it, for example, with networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities, others objected or refused to engage with social media, perceiving it as a waste of their time.

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