Researches in Social Media for learning

Learning Environments and Social Media: Friends or Opponents
Afua Gyasi, Instructional Design and Project Manager (M.Ed. Instructional Technology, GMU)
& Shannon Wzientek, Instructional Designer, BOMI International (MA in ISD candidate, UM)
Presentation slides

My PowerPoint:

How social media can be used in formal learning environment?
What impact will it have on the learners?
What tools to use?


Social Networking: process of sharing and interacting by a growing group of individuals (e.g. Facebook)
If we look at how much time people in the US spent on the Internet compared 2009 to 2010, Social Media is number 1 with 43% increase, while email is at the 3rd place with 28% decrease. (Nielsen)
Social Media: tools, platform we use to share and interact online (e.g. Youtube)
Formal learning: structured, planned, in a learning setting (classroom)
Informal learning: unstructured, exploration, no learning setting (e.g.: MOOC)

1. Subjects and method of selection
Participants with similar background were selected: about half of them had some instructional systems design background, the other half did not. Familiarity with the tools (CD, social networking) was required.

2. Size
2 groups of 10 participants in each group.

3. Length
The experiment was conducted for 2 weeks.

4. Methodology
2 studies were conducted.
One group used a CD based structured e-learning training. The 10 minute-long module included goals and concluded with a quizz.
The other group used Social Go, a social networking site. They used Youtube videos covering the same topic while goals were also explained.
The same topic of ISD models were introduced in both studies. At the end of the study each participant had to fill out a survey with 10 questions where participants had to rate their perception on the scale of 5 levels (Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree). Then the answers were analyzed with a word cloud tool as well as using bar charts.

5. The results
The CD group demonstrated a fast and easy learning. The social group started slow, invitation was sent via email and reminder email had to be sent. They experienced lots of confusion. Low participation by those, who did not have the professional background (new topic, new tool, too much).

The word cloud, which was created based on the textual input on the survey, revealed that the word LEARNING was the most frequently mentioned word in both cases, indicating that learning took place. The CD group frequently used words, such as BACKWARD, MODEL, DESIGN, which tells us that the group must have learned the subject matter. The other group used words, such as VIDEO, MATERIAL, showing that their focus was more on the social media tools, rather than on the subject. CD group found learning EASY, while the social group found it DIFFICULT.

Regarding the instructional format, the experienced participants in the CD group wanted to have activities to apply their new knowledge in addition to the quizzes. They also found instructions unclear. The inexperienced ones felt comfortable with the CD format but wanted more multimedia.
The experienced social group was interested in what challenges other peers have in the profession, and needed more facilitation for community building. The inexperienced ones in the social group found it very difficult to stay motivated and desired to have set goals and testing, it was difficult for them to locate learning materials.

To the question of how knowledgable they view themselves on the trained content, most of the CD participants felt strongly knowledgeable while the social group felt knowledgeable to a lesser degree. The CD group felt they gained knowledge beyond the models taught while the social group did not.

The CD group would likely participate in a similar learning environment, while the social group would rather not. The CD environment was viewed more user friendly than the Social Go environment.

6. The authors/researchers conclusions
  • Social media can be beneficial for formal learning.
  • Challenge: provide more advanced application of new knowledge for the experienced users. Just structured instruction with quizzes not enough.
  • Explain: provide clear instructions regardless of environments.
  • Engage: find out what motivates social learners and provide appropriate facilitation.
  • Focus: consider if the learner's focus will be on content or the tool.
  • Facilitate: don't expect that people figure out themselves how to build and utilize community for learning.
  • Support: social media can be used as support for enhancing formal learning.

7. Your own thoughts/analysis of the results

Beginner learners might best benefit from a structured learning environment (clear instructions, goals, quizzes) delivered on an already familiar and easy to use platform such as a CD. Unfamiliar platform is distracting.They also expect the use of multimedia in their learning program.

Advanced learners need more than just quizzes to test their learning. They might benefit from a social learning environment where they can learn from their peers, but appropriate facilitation is needed.

The learners' perception of their learning is greater in structured training.

To what extent was the training structured in the Social Go environment compared to the one in the CD environment?
Were there similar studies at the time when the CD based training was emerging?
Are there other researches on CD-based training vs. social media?
Researchers did not have experience with using social networking in their ISD job.This seemed to be their first research study, too. There was no literature review shared.

Social Media Framework

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