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Themes from Research on Social network sites, Microblogs and Learning
36 Posts
October 11, 2021 - 2:58 pm

The class provided nuanced arguments for the use of media in education. One take-away is that research lacks consensus about the educational benefits and drawbacks. Media, such as social network sites and microblogs can benefit learning and/or educational purposes in several ways. First, SNSs like Facebook can help students learn content and develop a social support system, as Betul commented: “exchange information and viewpoints,” and “develop social relationships among people.” Suha discussed microblogging’s benefits for “immediate participation,” collaboration and contribution to discourses beyond the course. Abdu emphasized the mobility SNSs and microblogs make possible: “A3 (anytime, anywhere, anybody) and it is a completely free exchange, not driven by specific learning goals.” Jeong pointed out that social media are not designed for educational purposes but can be taken up in ways that expand our definitions and traditional boundaries of “learning.”

On the other hand, media, like social network sites and microblogs, can also inaccessible to some and/or digital distractions that negatively impact learning depending on how they are used (Junco et al., 2012); features of the same media can positively or negatively impact learning (such as time spent on Facebook generally versus sharing resources or checking in with friends).

The majority found Ellison (n=3) more compelling than Junco (n=1). These studies frame what they value as “learning” and “education” somewhat differently. Junco et al. (2012) are concerned mainly with academic outcomes in formal learning environments (i.e., grades and GPA) rather than the social-emotional supports for higher education that Ellison and her team prioritize or Robelia’s study which locates learning as informal, unintentioned within interest-driven networks.

Aspects of a compelling, well-argued research study:
Establish importance of the problem/research quickly
Connect to a contemporary issue
Connection to practical impact
Clear definitions for a broad audience
A new angle or insight on established theory
Convincing review of relevant literature: it is clear the author knows what’s been done before
Strength of the methods (e.g., validated measures)
Results present a counter-intuitive and/or timely finding (e.g., Facebook use is related to higher levels of self-reported bridging social capital, particularly for students who reported low levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction.)
Discussion which pulls it all together
Structure and sign-posting in the writing
Trifecta: theory impact, research impact, practical impact, & surprising/counter-intuitive

1) What connections do you see between this week’s readings and your own research or teaching?

2) What connections do you see between this week’s readings and the ideas from previous weeks?

3) In crafting a compelling article of your own, what techniques from Ellison or Junco might you emulate or avoid?

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