INVESTIGATING VIRTUAL LEARNING COMMUNITY: A QUALITATIVE CASE STUDY
Meisei University (JAPAN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Page: 277 (abstract only)
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Social networking service (SNS) has been playing an increasingly important role in various types of communication. LINE as the most popularly used SNS application in Japan involved half of the nation’s population in various kinds of social activities. Statistics shows that young users between the age of 15 and 24 spend an average of three hours each day on LINE. Given the above facts, however, very limited empirical research has been conducted to explore what is exactly happening and how things happen on the LINE communication.
The current study attempts to investigate the use of LINE in an educational setting. It intends to answer the question of how a LINE virtual group serves as a learning community to facilitate its members in their academic learning process and in social interaction. The research participants are university students in Japan who are attending an undergraduate seminar. Natural conversations on the LINE chat-room among the participants are collected and, then, coded in the perspectives of cognitive development and social interaction process. Three categories of theories are employed to form the theoretical framework to help me to interpret the empirical data, these are the social learning theories, the social presence theories, and the virtual learning community theories.
Data analysis shows that the LINE virtual community served as a resource for my participants to obtain new and alternative ideas. It also provided the community members with a platform to gain support from each other and, thus, to reduce their anxiety and uncertainty when facing challenges in academic tasks. In addition, the online interaction also strengthened the interpersonal tie among the members and enhanced their friendship in the actual physical world. The paper concludes with a discussion of the potentials of the development of various virtual communities for educational practices.
Keywords: Social learning, social presence, virtual learning community.