Social Media and Open Source

The changing tempo is a challenge for instructors as they attempt to integrate new technologies in a meaningful way that fosters learning, but recognizes that further technological advances are inevitable.  The rapid rate of technology change requires teachers to jump from one advancement to the next and the pressure to properly integrate the technology is substantial.  Mishra, Koehler & Kereluik (2009) believe that “most innovations have focused inordinately on the technology rather than more fundamental issues of how to approach teaching subject matter with these technologies” (p. 49).  Teachers must learn the technical skills, as well as learning and identifying the best approach for integration.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, the TPACK framework is a helpful framework for instructors for the various skills and knowledge necessary for effective technology implementation (Studler, 2010). It is a step toward “understanding what makes a technology an educational technology by emphasizing that educational technologies exist in the interplay between pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, and technology knowledge” (Mishra et al, 2009, p. 51). The importance of this framework is twofold. Emphasis is placed on how technology interacts with pedagogy and content, but the framework is also used for evaluating what technologies are worth implementing. The instructor takes on the role of a decision maker, who designs his or her own technology environments (Mishra et al, 2009). One challenge with the instructor being the decision maker on what technologies to implement is the amount of new technology tools available. Mishra et al. mention the issue of chasing the latest and greatest innovation and how new strategies need to be developed so this isn’t the focus. The TPACK framework allows the focus to shift to the approach of teaching rather than on the tool itself (2009).

I do not have experience with the TPACK framework but I do like the strategy of the collaborative efforts this allows for; collaboration on tools that have been integrated. Also, the ability to share the ways each has creatively been used. Social media and open source tools are a popular choice for personal and business use. The affordances of these tools in this setting are similar to those in the education setting. Calendar tools, word processing, sharing information, interaction and increasing social presence are several benefits to utilizing social media and open sources tools. But what is the benefit to learning? Does this interaction and sharing support learning? This will continued to be researched, but the theory that guides the use of these tools in education settings is important.

Mobile learning or m-learning is the use of mobile technologies to facilitate learning (Hwang & Tsai, 2011). The benefits of m-learning are vast and the use of social media and open source tools are supported by mobile devices.  M-learning delivers independent and collaborative learning practices, allows for flexibility, provides instant student communication, and offers personalized learning (Pavan, Santhi & Jaisankar, 2012). The mobile device is often with the student, and is configured to push information allowing quick and easy communication and information sharing (Chuang, 2009).  The following are examples of several educational benefits created through the use of mobile technologies in higher education: students can view updates in an online course, view online lectures, read and respond to discussion threads, and have immediate access to online learning materials (Chuang, 2009).

One theory used to guide an m-learning environment is the LTCA (learning and teaching as communicative action) theory (Warren & Wakefield, 2013). Various social media and open source tools were integrated into the courses during several courses in an attempt to understand how learning can be supported through the use of mobile devices and the tools used on these devices. Improving communications and offering responsiveness or instant feedback are a few benefits supported by mobile devices, the LTCA theory guides their use in education and learning (Warren & Wakefield, 2013).

My research interests are in the collaborative learning possibilities that open source tools offer. I have experienced success with open source tools in my own collaborative writing projects. I see the benefits of informal learning, social presence and interaction offered by social media, however the distractions are present and I prefer a tool that offers a more formal space to work, learn, and create.

Chuang, K.W. (2009). Mobile technologies enhance the e-learning opportunity. American Journal of Business Education 2(9),  49-53.

Hwang, G., & Tsai, C. (2011). Research trends in mobile and ubiquitous learning: a review of publications in selected journals from 2001 to 2010. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 42(4), E65-E70. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01183.x

Hwang, G. J., & Wu, P. H. (2012). Advancements and trends in digital game‐based learning research: a review of publications in selected journals from 2001 to 2010. British Journal of Educational Technology43(1), E6-E10.

Mishra, P., Koehler, M. J., & Kereluik, K. (2009). The song remains the same: Looking back to the future of educational technology. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 53(5), 48-53. doi:10.1007/s11528-009-0325-3

Pavan, P.N.V., Santhi, H., & Jaisankar, N. (2012). A survey on m-learning. International Journal of Computer Applications 48(3), 17-21.

Studler, N. (2010). Perspectives on technology and educational change. Journal of Research and Technology in Education, 42(3), 221-229.

Warren, S. J. & Wakefield, J. S. (2013). Learning and teaching as communicative actions: A theory for mobile learning. In L. M. (. Z. Berge, & (Eds.), The mobile learning handbook. Routledge: Taylor and Francis.

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