Distance Students’ Readiness for Social Media and Collaboration

November 13, 2011

In recent years, there has been a rapid growth in the use of social networking tools (e.g., Facebook) and social media in general, mainly for social, recreational, and entertainment purposes (Smith, Salaway, & Caruso, 2009). Many educators believe that these tools offer new educational affordances and avenues for students to interact with each other and with their teachers or tutors. Considering the traditional dropout rate problem documented in distance courses (Rovai, 2003; Woodley, 2004), these tools may be of special interest for distance education institutions as they have the potential to assist in the critical “social integration” associated with persistence (Sweet, 1986; Tinto, 1975). However, as distance students are typically older than regular on-campus students (Bean & Metzner, 1985; Rovai, 2003), little is known about their expertise with social media or their interest in harnessing these tools for informal learning or collaborating with peers.

SOURCE: The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

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