Social Networking and Education (Undergraduate Students)

Education Use of Social Networking Technology in Higher Education

Hsiu-Ting Hung and Steve Chin-Yin Yuen

Teaching in Higher Education Vol. 15, No. 6

December, 2010

 In today’s world, social networking is as common as watching television. Web 2.0 is a new generation that supports social interaction and is a simple way for people to exchange information and share their interests and passions. Examples of these sites include posting videos to YouTube, photos to Flickr, and everyday thoughts to Twitter and Facebook. In recent years, the internet has changed the way people interact in day-to-day life.

 Many educators believe that social networking has the potential to make a huge impact on the way people learn. “Educators should make instructional use of the social nature of Web 2.0 social networking tool as an alternative supplement to traditional classroom learning”, (page 703).

 The focus of this study was to investigate how social networking can be used to help facilitate courses taking place in the classroom and to help “enhance the students’ sense of community and, thus, to promote classroom communities of practice in the context on higher education”, (page 703). It has been argued that learning emerges from the presence of social interaction. This is an example of Situated Learning Theory which “significantly shifts the view of learning from a cognitive process to a process of participation in the social world”, (page 704). Hung and Yuen use community of practice as their primary area of impact when it comes to social networking in the classroom. It is argued that if online students feel a sense of community and social support, it is possible that this emotional connectedness could provide the extra support for one to, not only complete the course successfully, but also to learn more during the course.

 Ning was the social network of choice for this study. It includes aspects such as text searching, media sharing, peer interaction, and content delivery. Students were able to access course material and exchange ideas and opinions anytime and anywhere. Students were asked to create their own profiles and encouraged to share interests (whether related to the class or not) and get to know one another as well as participate in required discussion forums.

 Undergraduate students at two public universities were surveyed after participating in these classes. Over 90% of the students agreed that the social networking site allowed them to 1. Share their personal interests, 2. Find and share educational resources, 3. Communicate easier about course topics, 4. Take place in learner-centered activities and 5. Promote knowledge sharing. Along with this, 100% of the students agreed that they had obtained personal and professional growth after completing the course and 73% felt a stronger sense of social connectedness.

The overall implications of this study were that students had a huge positive response towards Ning and although research on this area is still new, social networking seems to have a positive impact on students of high education and can impact learning by creating a greater sense of community within the class. The NETS standards that this article addressed were numbers 1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and creativity by creating a more profound sense of community with the students in the class and allowing them to create and share their own profiles and personal interests along with class material and 2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments by implementing the new idea of adding social networking in the classroom. I do not have my own classroom, nor want to become a teacher but this information is interesting to me because many college courses are starting to implement the idea of social networking (example would be WOU using Moodle) and it is nice to know that this type of learning seems to be making a positive impact on students and the amount of information they are gaining from the course.