Research Design Proposal: Use of Social Media in Higher Education: Effects on Teaching, Opportunities, and Challenges

Research Design Proposal: Use of Social Media in Higher Education: Effects on Teaching, Opportunities, and Challenges

The development and increased accessibility of technology have transformed the human discourse. Increased accessibility and advancement of technology have created a global village with people being able to have real-time communication with others in vast geographical locations. At the nucleus of the global village lies the social media or social networking platforms such as the Twitter and Facebook. The advancement and universal embracement of social media have dissolved the lines between academic, professional and personal lives resulting in vast changes in various areas. The social media has transformed the economic and social lives of people among whom the youth are the majority. The development and vast use of social media have necessitated changes in the education sector. An article by Selwyn explains that social media has resulted in the emergence of new type of learners, learning and methods of provision of higher education.

Zaidieh (p.18) explains that social media is perceived to be social in the regard that it allows people to communicate and form and strengthen relationships through the internet. Moreover, Sawyer and Howard (p.89) simplifies social informatics as the aspect of the use of computers in social settings. The proposed research will aim to decipher how social media affects people, in particular in the education system. Therefore, the study is related to social informatics in that it seeks to evaluate the effects of the digital social platform and its inherent aspects of such as information sharing, communication and service provision.

Research statement

The proposed research design will assess how social media has affected in higher learning institutions. In particular, the research will aim to evaluate how social media is used in the provision of education services and the opportunities inherent of embracing social media in education. Moreover, the study will evaluate the challenges posed by social media in higher education. In attaining these objectives, the study will try to answer the following questions:

  • How do students use social media in learning?
  • Is social media used in supporting teaching?
  • In what ways do social media enhance teaching?
  • The impacts of social media on teaching especially concerning communication?
  • What opportunities do social media pose to education the education sector?
  • What are the challenged of using social media use in education?

Data Collection

The primary method used in data collection will be interviews. According to Harrell and Melissa (p.6) define interviews as a one-on-one discussion with a person with relevant information pertaining area under study. The proposed research will entail the assessment of personal experiences or opinions regarding social media use in education. Harrell and Melissa on page 24 explain that interviews are of indispensable importance in getting information regarding personal opinions and practices. Moreover, use of interviews will help the researcher to infer expert knowledge from teachers with the information obtained being factual due to descriptions of processes. It is also worth noting that interviews will enable clarification and getting of in-depth information. The method’s empirical aspect also determines its validity. Interviews will allow getting highly personalized data with adequate return rate (Kajornboon, p.3).

The research will also entail the use of online surveys. Survey will be completed online by students and teachers. In this case, there will be two survey types, one of which will be the student survey while the other will be the teachers survey. The student survey will collect information on their social media use. The teachers survey will entail their perceptions regarding use of social media in teaching. The survey will be sent to different higher learning institutions to access how they use social media in teaching. The method is essential in collecting personal opinions of other participants due to the time and spatial challenges in the case of interviews (Taylor-Powell, & Carol, p.3).

The effects of social media on education can be deciphered majorly based on personal experiences and opinions. Interviews and surveys have been shown to be indispensable tools in the collection of personal opinions and practice experience. The two methods will complement each other in ensuring collection of adequate, and factual data on the effects of social media on education and the various aspects of the research. Moreover, surveys will allow data comparison from different sources.

Preliminary results

The universe of social media is expected to grow as high number of people continue to access technology. With such prospected rise in social media use, social dimensions are likely to be highly influenced with communication being one of the critical areas. The increase in the use of social media is likely to affect its professional use in classrooms. Moreover, escalated use of social media is likely to be concurrent with a progressive increase in social media use in classrooms. This section provides some of the preliminary results of the proposed research on the use of social media in classrooms.

It is expected that the use of social media among students will be high with a majority using the platforms to share thoughts, ideas, and resources. It also prospects that students will find social media to be a critical area regarding how they relate to others in terms of communication. Research by Dunn also found similar results of high use of social media among students. It is also likely that students will agree to the fact that social media can help to enhance teaching, make the learning process more interesting and also improve their interpersonal relationships with other students and teachers. Social media is essential in promoting collaboration among students and in improved rate of data and information sharing.

The research is also likely to find that teachers use social media when teaching. It is very likely that most teachers will agree to have used social media to enhance their teaching. There exist high chances that teachers use social media to communicate course contents to their students. Some of the social media platforms that are likely to be used are google+, YouTube, emails and Facebook. Teachers are also likely to agree to the fact that social media can help to enhance the learning process. In a similar study, Buzzetto-More (p.83) found that instructors use social media such as Facebook and Blackboard to communicate with students. Moreover, the study found that use of social media enhances the process of teaching and learning such as in discussions.

The high accessibility of social media among the students is likely to pose various opportunities in the education sector. In light of this aspect, the research is likely to find observe various opportunities presented by social media use. For instance, it is likely that social media use will offer instructors and students with flexibility on issues pertaining how, when, what and where to study. Moreover, it is probable that social media provides the opportunity of improving learning process by facilitating repetition which is an indispensable component for remembering information. Social media is also likely to improve accessibility and convenience. The development of technology has seen the rise of E-learning. With such and other ways of interacting such as virtual meetings, social media is likely to improve accessibility of learning materials. Moreover, issues of editing and reviewing of learning materials are liable to be enhanced through social media use.

The advent of technology and its use has been faced with various challenges such as on privacy and obstacles to efficient social culture. A similar scenario is likely to exist in social media use in education. It is probable that both instructors and students will express concern about privacy of their personal information. It is also probable that participants will express concerns regarding the integrity and quality of their interactions.

Annotated Bibliography

Article: Wolf, Marianne McGarry, et al. “Using social media to enhance learning through collaboration in higher education: A case study.” Applied and Agricultural Economics Association’s 2012 AAEA Annual Conference: Seattle, WA. 2012.

Wolf and colleagues examined the perception of students on the benefits of social media use in learning. The study found out that students favoured social media use as it enhanced the process of learning by such as improving the course of learning and the process of communication. This research and the proposed study both consider the aspects of how social media can influence the education sector. Wolf et al. Study examines the effect of social media from the perspective of students while the proposed study combines perceive the area of study from the students’ and instructors’ perspectives.

Article: Tiryakioglu, Filiz, and Funda Erzurum. “Use of social networks as an education tool.” Contemporary Educational Technology 2.2 (2011): 135-150.

The study by Tiryakioglu and Funda evaluated views on the use of attitudes of instructors on social media use. The study found revealed that most instructors had social media accounts with most of them logging in on a daily basis. The study also revealed that instructors used social media as a way of communicating with friends and a majority, two thirds, indicating that social media can improve the learning process. The proposed research also aims to decipher the views and perception that instructors have on social media use in education. Instructors will also be investigated on how frequent they use social media in teaching, communication with students and how their opinion on its use in education.

Article: Buzzetto-More, Nicole A. “Social networking in undergraduate education.”Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management 7.1 (2012): 63-90.

Buzzetto-More evaluates the efficiency of social media use as instructional tools in education. The study found that social media use is increasing. Moreover, Buzzetto-More found that social media enhances the teaching and learning experience. Buzzetto-More’s study considers how social media influences the education sector. In other words, he evaluates the effects of social media on the education sector which is the primary area of consideration in the proposed research.

Article: Dunn, L. “Teaching in higher education: can social media enhance the learning experience?.” (2013).

Dunn assesses interactive learning through the use of technology. The primary area of concern in the study is the effects of social media in facilitating the learning process. Moreover, Dunn also considered how the type of technology platform used affected the learning process. The study found that use of interactive learning platforms improved the learning by improving engagement and motivation of students, improved interaction within the education sector community, better methods of information and information sharing while removing barriers to contribution and expression among students. Interactive learning platforms are comprised within social media. Therefore, Dunn can be perceived to have explored the opportunities social media use presents to the learning experience.

Article: Zaidieh, Ashraf Jalal Yousef. “The use of social networking in education: challenges and opportunities.” World of Computer Science and Information Technology Journal (WCSIT) 2.1 (2012): 18-21.

The article by Zaidieh highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages of using social media in education. Some of the opportunities of social media use in education include such as convenience and accessibility and flexibility. On the other hand, social media use in presents challenges of privacy and compromised friendship. The proposed also aims to evaluate some of the opportunities and drawbacks resulting from the use of social media use in education.


Works Cited

Buzzetto-More, Nicole A. “Social networking in undergraduate education.”Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management 7.1 (2012): 63-90.

Dunn, L. “Teaching in higher education: can social media enhance the learning experience?.” (2013).

Harrell, Margaret C., and Melissa A. Bradley. Data collection methods. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Rand National Defense Research Inst Santa Monica Ca., 2009.

Kajornboon, Annabel Bhamani. “Using interviews as research instruments.”E-journal for Research Teachers 2.1 (2005).

Sawyer, Steve, and Howard Rosenbaum. “Social informatics in the information sciences: Current activities and emerging directions.” Informing science 3.2 (2000): 89-89.

Seaman, Jeff, and Hester Tinti-Kane. Social media for teaching and learning. UK: Pearson Learning Systems, 2013.

Selwyn, Neil. “Social media in higher education.” The Europa world of learning (2012).

Taylor-Powell, Ellen, and Carol Hermann. “Collecting evaluation data: surveys.” Madison: University of Wisconsin-Extension (2000).

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