Get out of MySpace!

| June 3, 2010
Jones, N., Blackey, H., Fitzgibbon, K., & Chew, E. (2010). Get out of MySpace! Computers & Education, 54(3), 776-782.
Article Review

Social media have become an inseparable part of most people’s daily lives. Scholars in the field of education are increasingly paying attention to how social media could enhance teaching and learning experience. In this paper, Jones et al (2010) investigated the opportunities and challenges social media have presented to higher education. Using both quantitative (web-based questionnaires, 76 respondents) and qualitative (interviews, 14 interviewees) instruments, they explored students’ perspectives on educational technology in general and on social software for learning from four UK universities. The major findings from quantitative data revealed that PowerPoint and Virtual Learning Environment (e.g. Blackboard) are the most used educational technology, and 70% of the respondents rarely or never use social software for learning. However, respondents also indicated the major reasons for educational technology usage are social (e.g. peer sharing, more communication platform). In the interviews, students indicated their inclinations to separate social life from studying, concerns about copyright issues and sense of information flood. Based on Vygotsky’s social learning perspectives, Jones et al (2010) suggested that higher education institutions should facilitate community of inquiry that combines some extent of both learning and social life, and design environment that allows users to decide how they would like to combine/separate these two domains. Understand students’ experience and expectations is an important step for this effort.
Findings from this study provide valuable insight for decision makers and instructors in higher education institutions. However, several caveats seem to apply to these findings. First, it is unclear how questionnaire samples were selected, which makes readers wonder to what extent these findings could represent students’ experience. Secondly, one interviewee’s statement of “Get out of MySpace” well illustrates his/her perception of separated worlds of social media and learning environment. To strengthen this theme, however, more analysis of qualitative data is needed since only one interviewee’s perspective was incorporated for this point. These caveats aside, findings from this paper would contribute to timely academic conversations in this area. This academia catch up is extremely important due to rapid changing social media and learning landscape.

EdLab Connection

EdLab D&R team has been working on a new social learning platform (SLP) that aims to help TC community members to teach and learn from each others’ expertise and build professional networks (proposal here; work in progress here). The findings from this paper, despite of caveats, provide some justifications for the development of SLP. As many students felt overwhelmed by information flood and inclined to separate their social space from learning space, the design of an institutional social learning platform could serve as the portal that synchronizes all learning resources and professional relationships. Nonetheless, based on design thinking spirit at EdLab and other guidelines suggested by Jones et al, this optimistic hypothesis deserves some empirical verification such as a pilot survey about TC students’ views on social learning platform or relevant data analysis from current TC virtual learning platform.

Contributor: Chingfu Lan