Using social learning technology to upscale your pedagogy

Does social learning technology have a place in the educational system?

Social media has penetrated all walks of life and in different ways. Apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram create a new type of engagement. These new types of engagement help to keep audiences updated to the latest trends. They also make it easier to connect with their friends.

Social learning technology is the use of new media and digital engagement in education. It borrows methods achieved in the social media domain to increase learning output. In such digital settings, the goal of social learning is to leverage these social interactions to bring about learning.

Social learning technology melds social interactions with content delivery and tasks to deliver learning outcomes.

Social learning also acts as a reinforcement to ubiquitous learning that refers to the ability to learn in non-traditional environments (i.e on the go usually through mobile environments). Most learning environments are restricted by resources in both space, time, and teacher/student ratios. Teachers are unable to consistently monitor and engage with students. With the affordance of ubiquitous learning, there is the ability to support a consistent and regular learning environment supported by technology (Ogata et al. 2009). These could lead to better learning retention and reduced skill waste.

The challenges from connecting in traditional settings

One problem people had in learning from networks in traditional ways (e.g. weekend brunches, or dinners) was the problem of distance and timing with relation to events that occurred. There is a lack of physical proximity from friends and a time delay of updating. Therefore it's difficult to understand the full context of updates and the ability to relate.

Social apps create an affordance in learning with the support of images and videos. These not only allow learners to obtain content and interaction anytime, anywhere (Hwang et al. 2008) but also see content in an almost real-time manner. With the rise of mobile technologies, these are increasingly creating a significant impact.

It is important to be able to plan images and videos as part of your learning curriculum to maximize such new media. For example, traditional classroom group discussions often end up with just a few groups presenting. Quite often it's just a single group leader who presents. Besides, there are also time constraints. In this case, individual students can record video presentations and share them. This creates a new wealth of information that teachers can use to give more personalized feedback.

Notably, there are challenges with creating a process like this today. These revolve around the storage, retrieval, and assessment methods. These are problems Soqqle is trying to solve.

Authentic Learning, Unintentional - not Deliberate

From an education standpoint,  virtual learning content can be exchanged with real-life experiences of students. This could support the idea of authentic learning which is unintentional instead of deliberate (Bell, Maeng, & Binns, 2013; Bridges, Chan, & Hmelo-Silver, 2016; Dawley & Dede, 2014; Lave & Wenger, 1991).

Such authentic learning can potentially lead to increased interest in topics due to the manner of how it is earned. When a person 'discovers' learning, it is often deep-rooted in memory as experienced learning. Having such experiences can help students understand real-world situations and applications more - and lead to better problem-solving skills. The eventual increase in interest can lead to an improved way to teach - only if the information is captured and shared well with educators.

Unfortunately, in traditional learning environments and even with existing technology, authentic learning is difficult to achieve. This is something that Soqqle is trying to solve.

New interest
The use of technology for education is not new, but it is set to increase at a rapid pace with more and varied types of technology. In January 2020, the world was hit by COVID. During this period, the majority of educational institutions switched into online learning. In the post-COVID world, educational technology is poised to take the center stage and utilized more than ever.

Creating an Active Learning environment

Active Learning is practiced when students take part in the learning process instead of just passively listening. The development of innovative and interactive technological applications has changed learning methods by offering active learning environments (Furio, Juan, Seguí, & Vivo, 2015).

Traditional environments

Various educational software is complementing or even replacing traditional teaching materials and methods. In some cases, classrooms adopt a flipped learning method so that students come into classes informed and participate in meaningful learning discussions.

Online environments

Social platforms can also create an active learning environment. The difference is that it is done in an online environment. The goal is to enable online collaboration. Machine learning and data analytics can analyze student interactions as well as performance and Artificial Intelligence can provide tutoring. Game-based learning engages students in authentic problem solving by providing enjoyable and motivating learning experiences (Barzilai & Blau, 2014).

The ability to bring in learning as part of social experiences can be planned. In some cases, they are done through the use of apps like Discord, Slack, and Whatsapp. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Soqqle tries to adopt a new approach to collaboration to create this online active learning environment. Reach out to us to find out more.

These are some examples. Who knows what new technologies will emerge in the future?

Who is it for?

Social learning technology is especially suitable for the demographics of students that grew up with technology. The term we refer to them is 'Digital Natives'.

Paul, et al. (2017) and Sun, et al. (2014) said that today's students are the first generation that has grown up engaging with digital media and thus have a natural affinity with technology. It is common to see Google as a source of information as opposed to books or even teachers. The role of teachers, in this case, will fundamentally shift. There is a critical step for teachers to teach students information literacy - the ability to have a critical thinking approach to obtained data. The ability to use information in a good way is as important as the ability to obtain information.

Most students are not only digitally literate but immersed in digital environments for entertainment and communication purposes. They are adept at multi-tasking and communicating electronically through social networking (Calderwood, Green, Joy-Gaba, & Moloney, 2016; Teo, Yurdakul, & Ursavaş, 2014). Many students use social media as a dominant form of communication and expect such technologies to be present in other aspects of their lives (Imlawi, Gregg, & Karimi, 2015), including in education.

It is easy to utilize social apps for your classroom coordination. Facebook groups can incorporate administrative posts or 'fun' posts that can lead to ad-hoc learning opportunities. Creating slack channels for learning can create a more collaborative learning environment.

Why use Social Learning Technology?

Social learning technology has countless benefits, allowing us to do what we cannot do in a traditional classroom.

Due to its ubiquitous nature, virtual content delivery allows more students to access content with ease. Students can now come together, interact, and work on tasks together. Technological tools enable instant access to updated digital materials (Akyuz & Yavuz, 2015; Chauhan, 2017).

Technology-enhanced learning enables interactions between students and the content, between students and teachers, and among peers (González Videgaray, 2007; Taşkm & Kandemir, 2010). Research showed  if technology is integrated into the teaching pedagogy for elementary students, it can be a powerful tool to engage them in meaningful activities (Slavin, Lake, Chambers, Cheung, & Davis, 2009) and lead to high learning effectiveness (Su & Cheng, 2013).

Studies on the use of social media for learning is extensive.

  1. Some researchers reported that social media has a positive influence on students’ learning performance (Larusson & Alterman, 2009; Ertmer et al., 2011).
  2. Social networking platforms increase interaction amongst students by allowing them to post ideas and links, and to share and comment on those posted by others (Cheung, Chiu, & Lee, 2011).
  3. Social media tools are user-centered and support communication, information sharing, and collaboration. It encourages students to build collectively on each other's intelligence (Doering et al., 2007).
  4. Social media facilitates information distribution, and enables knowledge to be “decentralized, accessible, and co-constructed by and among a broad base of users” (Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009, p. 247).
  5. According to Madge et al. (2009), social media usage enhances educational access and interaction, and fills the learning gap informally between students and academia (Bull et al., 2008).
  6. Wang and Wu (2008) showed that students have considerable self-regulating abilities when learning online. They provide and receive feedback when interacting with others, and have greater learning effectiveness. Other researchers have demonstrated that student attitudes towards the use of social media for learning are generally positive, as they think that it makes learning fun, meaningful, and interactive.
  7. It allows them to be more involved in activities and increases their motivation (Bowman & Akcaoglu, 2014; Lim & Richardson, 2016; Manca & Ranieri, 2016; Mao, 2014).

In summary

Social learning technology will be a game changer for education—marrying quality social interactions with technology in learning. Social learning technology will make online learning better than ever.

References

Evelyn Eng

Evelyn Eng