Brunel Business School (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 5523-5529
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Can social media be used to enhance learning in Higher Education? The use of social Media such as Facebook and Twitter is dramatically expanding, with over 500 million users of Facebook and 100 million on Twitter. Twenty-eight per cent of Facebook users and forty-eight per cent of Twitter users are in college. It makes sense to consider whether these media might be used successfully for teaching.

Social media have the potential to contribute to the process of learning by helping learners to connect to unprecedented levels of information in a way that allows them to interactively select, organise, and integrate it with what they already know. Twitter is a good tool for this as it focuses on connecting learners with sources of new information.

In this study, Twitter was introduced into the teaching of over two hundred first-year undergraduates in Business and Management. The students had six compulsory modules, and all six module-leaders were invited to use Twitter to communicate with the students during the course of the academic year. Twitter accounts were set up for the lecturers and students and links to the feeds were provided for students in the existing Virtual Learning Environment. The impact of the introduction of Twitter was evaluated through an online Likert-scale survey and a short paper-based open-ended questionnaire at the end of the second term.

The introduction of innovative technologies like Twitter represents the first stage in the technology adoption life cycle. Some lecturers resisted the opportunity, with only four actually participating. The level of Twitter use was high for one lecturer (an “early adopter”) but low for the other three.

Student participation was much greater but still disappointing with 56% claiming that they did not make regular use of Twitter. However 44% indicated they would make greater use if all six courses embraced it. 50% of the students indicated that they thought that Twitter was important to modern business, suggesting that there was a lack of appreciation of the role that Twitter plays in the online business world. Correlational analysis suggested that those who recognized its importance for business were more likely to embrace it for their learning. Those that did use Twitter regularly were also more likely to be satisfied with the overall teaching on their modules.

The second phase of the study involved considering four specific hypotheses arising from this study and the literature. The results revealed that the twitter usage (connections and frequency) improves the overall communication between students and others (d=0.14), the credibility of instructor (d=0.29) and engagement of students with learning (d=0.34); however, it does not improve motivation.

The main conclusions of the study are that for it to be successful as a teaching tool, Twitter needs greater motivation for its importance for knowledge acquisition and needs to be fully embraced by lecturers across the board.
Twitter, Social media, e-learning, Education, Interactivity, Web 2.0.