Supporting Instructors to Create Social and Unbound
Learning Spaces in Higher Education (Hands-on Session)
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In an ongoing EU FP7 Era.NET RUS project,1 utilizing a mixed-method approach (interviews/focus group (n=145) in four countries; online teaching style survey), we, among others, researched how instructors and students in higher education (HE) use social media (SoMe) for teaching, learning, and research. We revealed potential benefits of SoMe usage by instructors in HE classrooms. However, although many instructors are open-minded about applying SoMe in their teaching contexts, they often face difficulties when deciding how to integrate it in their instructional designs. Therefore, we developed a SoMe toolkit that will (a) assess the instructor’s teaching scenario by asking four questions, (b) suggest the best matching SoMe class by utilizing an algorithm based on pedagogical principles, and (c) provide instructional tips for the instructor on how to integrate the suggested SoMe class in his or her teaching. The pedagogical framework of the toolkit will be presented in detail in this paper. At the conference, you will be able to test the toolkit’s functions, see the users’ data entry visualized in nearly real time, and have the opportunity to give feedback and discuss.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The use of SoMe has been gaining popularity in recent years. Although instructors realize possible educational gains from using it in an educational context, a detailed literature review and current research findings (a complementary research project focusing on determining and evaluating measures that can assist in using SoMe media for teaching and learning purposes has been recently started by Gruzd et al. (2013)) of this project have revealed that only a small number of instructors are aware of the potential educational benefits of SoMe use in the classroom. Similarly, although most students use SoMe in their daily lives, they are often not used to or are sometimes against the idea of using these social environments for instructional purposes (for more information about students’ (social) media literacy at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (zhaw), see data collected (n=928) by Lim (2013)). However, it is also obvious that, when used properly, SoMe can turn into an effective social and unbound learning environment for students, who benefit individually from using it for their learning purposes. Similarly, observing good examples and making effective use of SoMe can lead instructors to become aware of its potential benefits, both for themselves and for their students. Thus, our cases of SoMe implementation in HE in different cultures have shown that SoMe can be used as an effective learning environment to support traditional courses (similar findings have been supported by Göldi et al. (2012), who also focus on institutional factors for SoMe application in HE, and by Bittel (2014), who trains instructors in SoMe usage for HE)). Using SoMe makes it easier to reach students, communicate with them 24×7, and extend communication beyond the confines of the classroom. It also encourages peer learning, group work, and socialization among students (Gulbahar, 2014).
2 Social Media Toolkit
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 This paper aims to present the social media toolkit designed to (1) analyze the teaching scenario for an instructor in HE, (2) decide on the best social media type through an algorithm2, and (3) provide instructional tips about the best matching social media type usage in educational context. Hence, the process of development of this toolkit will be explained in detail throughout this paper.
2.1 Classification of Social Media
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 2 The first and main task undertaken was the identification of the classes of SoMe services, since the toolkit is supposed to suggest one class to the user. SoMe services were classified according to the study done by Bower, Hedberg, and Kuswara (2010), who proposed eight classes. Two classes (“social bookmarking” and “research”) were not relevant in our context and therefore omitted.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 As Table 1 below demonstrates, we grouped the numerous SoMe services that exist on the Internet into six classes. The services included in each class were selected only as examples for their possible use in the teaching-learning process. Since new features are being added to SoMe services almost every day, this classification may need to be adjusted at some point. We believe that one day many SoMe services will be similar to each other in terms of the number of features they support. That is why grouping SoMe services according to their educational uses was a challenging process.
2.2 Rationale for Theoretical Framework
¶ 62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 Based on our research,3 we identified the following eight dimensions that can be used while implementing a SoMe strategy for HE: (1) identity of target audience, (2) name & design, (3) measuring success – presence, (4) teaching styles, (5) learning opportunities, (6) goals, (7) assessment & evaluation/tracking tools, and (8) content types – sharing.4
¶ 63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 In order to form theoretical underpinnings, we questioned all the dimensions in terms of their potential contribution to our suggestion to instructors via the toolkit. After much debate, we came to a conclusion that considering four dimensions would be sufficient to decide which SoMe class would be the most effective for a particular instructor. Thus, the following factors important for the instructional process and instructional design were selected as the main dimensions:
2.2.1 Knowledge Levels
¶ 69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 From the knowledge levels point of view, we decided to rely on the cognitive dimension of Bloom’s revised taxonomy, because it is a very strong theoretical framework used for many years by both educators and researchers (Anderson et al., 2000; Bloom, 1956).
¶ 70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 Many of the SoMe classes are appropriate for the lowest level of knowledge. When the level of knowledge increases, the number of appropriate SoMe classes decreases. For instance, creativity is the highest level of knowledge and requires a high level of skills. Therefore, not all SoMe classes are appropriate for this level. On the contrary, remembering and understanding are the lowest level of knowledge and can be viewed as a starting point for any course. They do not require a high level of skill, and almost all classes of SoMe match this lowest level of knowledge.
2.2.2 Content Types
¶ 71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 Content types were also found to be important for making decisions about SoMe. Hence, based on a recent review of literature (Bower, Hedberg, & Kuswara, 2010; McLoughlin & Lee, 2007; OECD, 2007; Safko, 2012), we decided to ask instructors which of the following five types of content they have and typically use in their teaching: (1) text, (2) video, (3) audio, (4) visual, and (5) animation / simulation.
2.2.3 Instructional Methods
¶ 72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 In terms of instructional methods, we decided to provide six well-known approaches to teaching; three of them teacher-centered and the other three learner-centered, since this classification is well-known and widely used by educators (Arends, 2011; Borich, 2013; Burden & Byrd, 2013).
¶ 73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 Finally, the types of assessment instructors intend to use could be an important point in making the decision about which SoMe class is the most appropriate. For the purposes of this research, the assessment types were classified as (1) alternative and (2) classic.
¶ 74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 The literature review revealed different classifications of assessments. The first one divides assessment types into summative and formative (Garrison & Ehringhaus, 2007), and the other one into classic and alternative (Pressley & McCormick, 2007). Since there is no common paradigm for the educational systems of different countries, the terms “classic” and “alternative,” which are more general, were used to classify assessments in this project.
¶ 75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 Therefore, the above four factors were considered while forming the decision matrix, which is the basis for the algorithm that provides suggestions for the most appropriate classes of SoMe to instructors. SoMe classes were analyzed separately in terms of each of these four factors. These four factors also form the pedagogical basis of the toolkit. All important aspects of instructional design are questioned for pedagogical concerns in order to return a reliable suggestion. The resulting decision matrix is the path to defining the most suitable SoMe class for an instructor’s teaching purposes.
2.3 Decision Matrix – Relating User Input to Outputs
¶ 76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 The below decision matrix (Table 2) was formed based on the previously mentioned classifications and decisions. This matrix is used for decision-making by matching patterns in the flow of the program.
2.4 Main Components and Processes of the Toolkit
¶ 136 Leave a comment on paragraph 136 0 As can be seen in Figure 1 below, the toolkit has four major components: (1) the start page, which welcomes the user and explains what service the toolkit offers and what the target group is (instructors in HE); (2) the query wizard, which asks four questions (knowledge levels, content types, instructional methods, and assessment type) in order to analyze the teaching situation in which the instructors want to apply SoMe; (3) the results page, which will display the most suitable class of SoMe based on the previous entries;5 and (4) additional information about the suggested SoMe class, displayed upon request to instructors who would like to see examples of instructional tips and ideas about how to integrate SoMe into their teaching process.6 The resulting possible user/machine interaction is displayed in the swim lane “What the User Does.” There will be a template in the toolkit allowing the users to leave feedback. However, it is not yet implemented and is therefore omitted from Figure 1.
¶ 138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0 In this paper, we presented the pedagogical basis for the toolkit that, we hope, can provide educational support to instructors teaching in HE classrooms and enrich their teaching activities by incorporating SoMe services. This toolkit is in its preliminary stages and will likely be modified and enhanced through continuing user feedback. Technological tools, user interfaces, and features change considerably all the time and it is hard to keep up with these changes. Hence, in the toolkit we tried to address forthcoming features of SoMe and tried to group them according to these features that also support educational use. We tried to shape our decisions based on several pedagogical concerns and matched these expectations with the features of SoMe. Therefore, the toolkit provides not only some insight about which class of SoMe an instructor should use but also possible instructional tips and ideas that can be implemented in his or her teaching. Going through all of the details and ideas provided in the toolkit is aimed to shape the instructor’s mind in terms of potential use cases and to create an insight about the use of SoMe in education. Thus, we believe that going for additional information is more important than limiting oneself to the SoMe class suggested by the toolkit.
¶ 139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 In line with the motto of the conference, we hope that successful SoMe usage for teaching in HE can contribute to creating an open and more social and unbound space for learning, among students and between students and instructors. Regarding the conceptual and technical basis for the toolkit, we have to test the user feedback and the working (i.e., the fit of the suggestions) of the algorithm. We invite you to join us for that purpose in the session.
¶ 140 Leave a comment on paragraph 140 0 Future research studies could concentrate on several problems emerging due to SoMe usage for educational purposes. Copyright, privacy, and data security issues should be investigated; threats should be revealed; and solutions may be provided. Students’ use of SoMe as their “research facilities” could be studied, and ways of encouraging students to use more services for collaboration should be identified. In such a socially connected world, attempts to make effective and efficient use of technological tools should continue. There is a large amount of data and thousands of users. We are just exploring for what purposes different types of technology are most beneficial and how to effectively integrate technology into educational contexts.
¶ 141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J. & Wittrock, M. C. (2000). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessment: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon.
¶ 143 Leave a comment on paragraph 143 0 Bittel, N. (2014). Teaching and learning with social media [Webinar]. Certificate of Advanced Studies – eDidactics. Swiss Distance Learning University. Retrieved from https://www.eduhub.ch/conferences-events/eduhub-webinars/lehren-und-lernen-mit-social-media/
¶ 148 Leave a comment on paragraph 148 0 Garrison, C.,& Ehringhaus, M. (2007). Formative and summative assessments in the classroom. Retrieved from http://ccti.colfinder.org/sites/default/sfiles/formative_and_summative_assessment_in_the_classroom.pdf
¶ 149 Leave a comment on paragraph 149 0 Göldi S. et al. (2012). Social Media in Lehr- und Lernszenarien [Strategic initiative 2012 – Social media in learning/teaching scenarios for (further) training]. University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. Available at https://blogs.fhnw.ch/SMinLehre/
¶ 150 Leave a comment on paragraph 150 0 Gruzd, A. et al. (2013). project on Learning Analytics for the Social Media Age – #pLASMA (2013–2018). Research project funded by the Insight Grant (2013–2018) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Available at http://socialmedialab.ca/?page_id=9219
¶ 152 Leave a comment on paragraph 152 0 Gülbahar, Y., Rapp, C. & Kilis, S. (2014). Validation of Social Media Toolkit: Peer reviewed Paper. Accepted. Ireland International Conference on Education 27-29.10.2014. Dublin, Ireland.
¶ 153 Leave a comment on paragraph 153 0 Lim, U. (2013). Anforderungen an die E-Medienkompetenz Studierender. [Research on the media use for studying and on students’ media literacy] (n=928). Unpublished. Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).
¶ 155 Leave a comment on paragraph 155 0 McLoughlin, C. & Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ASCILITE Singapore 2007. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/mcloughlin.pdf
¶ 156 Leave a comment on paragraph 156 0 OECD. (2007). Participative web and user-created content: Web 2.0, wikis and social networking. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from http://browse.oecdbookshop.org/oecd/pdfs/free/9307031e.pdf
¶ 158 Leave a comment on paragraph 158 0 Rapp, C., Gülbahar, Y. & Erlemann, J. (2014). Social Media for Education – A Toolkit for Supporting Instructors in Higher Education Enriching Their Teaching with Social Media. Poster Presentation (peer reviewed). Accepted. Social Media & Society 2014 International Conference. 27-28 September 2014. Toronto, Canada.
¶ 162 Leave a comment on paragraph 162 0 2 The functioning and justification of the algorithm is beyond the scope of this paper, but is discussed in Gülbahar, Rapp & Kilis (2014). Also, the technical basis for the toolkit has only been sketched out; for more information see Rapp, Gülbahar & Erlemann (2014). For the first presentation and discussion see: https://www.eduhub.ch/conferences-events/eduhub-webinars/social-media-for-education/.
¶ 164 Leave a comment on paragraph 164 0 4 Content and empirical basis for the social media strategy is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this paper. A paper was presented at http://www.eden-online.org/eden-events/upcoming-conference.html. Brief information can be found here: http://www.somecat.org/proposed-framework-for-social-media-strategy/.
¶ 166 Leave a comment on paragraph 166 0 6 We decided not to provide guidelines on how certain SoMe services are used technically (e.g., how to send a tweet in Twitter). There are numerous sites explaining that; and technology services and their functions/usage change rapidly (which poses major problems with updating). We focused, rather, on the guidelines on how to use the SoMe class for educational purposes (similar to Manning & Johnson, 2011; Richardson, 2010).