The implementation framework of social media for distance learners in Africa Nazarene University, Kenya

Distance education as a primary means of instruction is expanding significantly at the college and university level. Simultaneously, the growth of social networking sites (SNS), including Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace, is also rising among today’s college students. An increasing number of higher education instructors are beginning to combine distance education delivery with SNSs. However, there is currently little research detailing the educational benefits associated with the use of SNSs. Non-commercial, education-based SNSs have been recently shown to build communities of practice and facilitate social presence for students enrolled in distance education courses. In order to evaluate the largely unexplored educational benefits of SNSs, we surveyed graduate students enrolled in distance education courses in ANU, an education-based SNS, based on their attitudes toward SNSs as productive online tools for teaching and learning. The results of our study suggest that education-based SNSs can be used most effectively in distance education courses as a technological tool for improved online communications among students in higher distance education courses. Debates rage about the appropriateness of using social networking in teaching, with arguments ranging from waste of time and distraction from academic goals to the need to reach net generation students. This paper explores a range of current social networking choices and argues that like any tool, they should be carefully evaluated in terms of affordances and course goals. Several different tools are reviewed, and questions that might be useful for evaluation are discussed.

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