Category talk:Affordances and constraints of learning technologies
Social software and student motivation -- Matt Newton (talk) 00:00, 25 July 2013 (CEST)
Submitted by Matthew Newton Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Definitions and background
Social software also known as Web 2.0; includes technologies such as social networking sites (SNS) for example Facebook and MySpace, blogs, wikis, Ning and video sharing sites. (Duffy, 2008). Social software permits free online collaboration, social connections, and resource sharing among users (Hossain and Wiest, 2013). Using social software as an educational platform allowed learners to manipulate their learning environment that created a more individualized, ‘self-directed’ and participatory learning environment. (Wodzicki, Schwammlein and Moskaliuk, 2012). Duffy (2008); Badge, Sanders, and Cann (2012) have advocated that the ubiquitous use of social software among young people make it an appropriate learning apparatus to engage younger students. Garcia-Martin and Garcia-Sanchez (2013) noted that social software plays a significant role in young people’s personal and social stratosphere. Badge et al., (2012) stated that those born in or after 1980, also referred to as the ‘net generation’, rely heavily on information technology for social and professional interactions. Duffy (2008) also described net generation students as “digital natives” or the “Nintendo generation” in that they tend to absorb information quickly in images and video as well as text, from multiple sources simultaneously. Similarly, Driscoll(2007) claimed that net generation students are actively participating in social networking and other online communicates, so most students are familiar and confident with using social software in the classroom.
Integrating social software technology into the curriculum can enhance student motivation, promote constructivist learning environments and enrich the learning environment (Callaghan & Bower, 2012; Heafner & Friedman, 2008). Saadatmand and Kumpulainen (2013) remarked that social software provides more flexible, diverse and individualized learning environments for students. Duffy (2008) outlined the benefits that social software can offer to engage students by providing educators with many possibilities for adopting desirable practices such as “collaborative content creation, peer assessment and motivation of students through innovative use of media” (p.125). Heafner (2004) observed that technology enhances self-efficacy and student self-worth. Hossain and Weist (2013) noted that social software is more likely to engage today’s youth. Likewise, Casey (2013) concluded that social software’s media features combined with a face-to-face classroom environment provided an effective means for students to construct and share their skills and knowledge. Badge, et al., (2012) concluded that the collaborative nature of social software has led to an increase in student motivation because students feel a sense of belonging within online communities.
The interactive nature of social software has been shown to promote cooperative learning environments and enhance learning (Hossain and Wiest, 2013: Heafner, 2004). Heafner (2004) noted “With this nurturing environment, students are able to rely comfortably on their peers to assist with technical difficulties without fear of social embarrassment” (p.48). Finally, O’Bannon, Lubke and Britt (2013) concluded that social software encouraged collaboration between learners. Callaghan and Bower (2012) explained how SNSs (social networking sites) creates new opportunities of self-directed learning that supports all levels of cognitive abilities, peer-based learning and the development of new media literacy. Similarly, Friedman and Heafner (2007) argued that technology offers an apparatus to promote student centred learning, higher level thinking and real world learning activities. Heafner (2004) commented that “Technology empowers students by engaging students in the learning process. The nature of the task shifts from teacher centered to student centered.”(p.47) In a study on the use of Wikis to motivate social study students, Heafner and Friedman (2008) noted that the pedagogical shift from behaviorist to constructivist learning was facilitated by wikis which allowed students to move beyond passive class participants and become active creators of knowledge. Callaghan and Bower (2011) described the success that the social software Ning has had in promoting self-directed learning. They observed that students worked independently by logging into Ning and proceeding with their work without the intervention of the teacher.
Ertmer, Newby, Liu, Tomory, Yu and Lee (2011) outlined many co-operative learning barriers to using social software such as coordinating different time zones and encouraging students to engage in in-depth discussions. Cultural differences may impede collaboration and aspects of course design or delivery needs to be modified and facilitated in order to overcome cultural differences (Stepanyan, Mather & Dalrymple, 2013).
Kim and Bateman (2010) revealed in their study of online learning discussions that students do post their perspectives; however deep learning and constructivist learning rarely occurs. Kim and Bateman (2010) argued that educators need to be very careful in how a course is designed to promote in-depth learning. “Discussion questions requiring an in-depth understanding of the concepts were associated with more reflective and collaborative responses than reading comprehension questions” (Kim & Bateman, 2010, p.78).
Prescott, Wilson and Becket (2013) revealed that although social software is useful for ‘informal learning’, it is rarely being used for ‘formal learning’. Prescott et al (2013) commented that “the majority of students do not want Facebook used for formal learning” (p. 4). Likewise, Kabilan, Ahmad, and Abidin (2010) argued that formal learning requires more structure and clearer goals that may not be appropriate with social software platforms such as Facebook. Similarly, Madge, Meek, Wellers and Hooley’s (2009) research revealed that students preferred to use Facebook for social connections and informal learning as opposed to formal teaching purposes.
The high cost of technology and lack of skills among educators and students may also limit the success of social software (Gosper, Malfroy & Mackenzie, 2013; Graya, Waycotta, Clerehanb, Hamilton, Richardsond, Shearde and Thompson, 2012). Gosper et al., (2013) explained how costs associated with upgrading advancing technologies must be weighed against prospective learning benefits to students. Likewise, Graya et.al., (2012) noted that using web 2.0 technologies put additional pressure on students and staff to be proficient with not only the software but also the target material. “Compared to more conventional assignments, the extra efforts required to get students to work effectively with Web 2.0 may detract from the perceived worth of the activity” (Graya, 2012, p.5). Another constraint limiting the success of social software outlined by Saadatmand and Kumpulainen (2013) is that some academic institutions are reluctant to support true constructivist learning environments inspired by such software.
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