What is the experience of instructors who use a social networking site in their teaching?
It has been suggested that the use of social technologies (e.g., social media, social networking sites) in higher education may be a worthwhile endeavor. Nevertheless, empirical literature examining user experiences, and more specifically instructor experiences, with these tools is limited. My colleagues and I conducted a study recently to address this gap in the literature. Our goal was to identify, describe, and make sense of initial instructor experiences with a social networking platform (Elgg) used in higher education courses. This follows a prior study in which we examined learner experiences with Elgg.
This study does not purport to describe the experiences of all instructors. Rather, it provides an in-depth examination and rich description of the experiences of five instructors who used a social networking platform in their courses. Readers should examine the context in which this study occurred and decide whether these findings may apply in their own situations.
We found that instructors:
- had expectations of Elgg that stemmed from numerous sources
- used Elgg in heterogeneous ways and for varied purposes
- compartmentalized Elgg and used it in familiar ways, and
- faced frustrations stemming from numerous sources.
Importantly, the ways that Elgg came to be used “on the ground” was contested. These ways contrasted starkly with the narrative of how social software might contribute benefits to educational practice. Furthermore, we found that learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Desire2Learn) may frame the ways through which other tools, such as social media and Elgg, are understood, used, and experienced, as instructors in our study continuously discussed their experiences with Elgg in comparison to an LMS, even though Elgg is not a traditional LMS.
Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R., & French, K. (2013). Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: Expectations, Frustrations, Appropriation, and Compartmentalization (pdf). Educational Technology, Research and Development, 61(2), 255-278
You can download a pdf of the paper from the link above, or visit dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11423-012-9284-z for the published version.