Social media in the classroom: benefits outweigh any drawbacks

The advent of social media has had a huge effect on teaching and learning, but relatively little is known about the pros and cons of using social media in the classroom.

This is according to Dr Thamie Ndlovu, an educational technologist at the North-West University (NWU), whose PhD study investigated the use of social media as a tool for teaching and learning in higher education.

“Academics in different higher education institutions are actively experimenting with social media platforms (SMPs) to stimulate collaboration, active learning, knowledge construction and critical thinking skills,” he says. “Some universities have embraced the use of SMPs as a platform to enhance teaching and learning.”

With SMPs being an emergent tool for scholars to enhance teaching and learning, SMPs have become a popular topic for studies in educational research. “However, there is limited data available to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of using social media in the classroom,” says Dr Ndlovu.

His study seeks to bring some structure into the situation by developing a framework that enables the use of social media as a teaching and learning tool.

This is important as there are some challenges associated with how SMPs are currently being used.

“This study finds that SMPs are not used to their full capacity due to the lack of enabling frameworks. Moreover, given the number of SMPs available, selecting a suitable platform is a challenge,” he adds.

“Other challenges are security, distraction and lack of support, which still hinder the use of SMPs in higher education. The results further indicated that the benefits of using SMPs as a tool for teaching and learning outweigh the challenges.”

From the perspective of the experts participating in Dr Ndlovu’s study, the use of social media for educational purposes greatly enhances the teaching and learning process. “It enables lecturers to tap into students’ digital learning styles and offer creative ways to engage with students in the learning process.”

His study concludes that pedagogy, course content and social media platforms are important to consider when social media is used for teaching and learning. “Moreover, users and privacy and security play a crucial role in the success of using social media for teaching and learning.”

About the researcher

Dr Thamie Ndlovu is a young dynamic leader and academic, and a self-motivated, incisive and hardworking individual. He is an educational technologist with nine years of experience in higher education.

He strives to create an innovative, challenging and engaging learning environment that enables students to become life-long learners.

With experience in instructional design, curriculum development and educational technologies, he is adept at technology integration in teaching and learning, and integration into synchronous, asynchronous, blended, hybrid, Hyflex and online learning environments.

In addition to his PhD in information systems and computer sciences from the NWU, Dr Ndlovu holds a master’s degree in information systems and computer sciences (also from the NWU), and a postgraduate diploma in higher education from Rhodes University.

Thamie Ndlovu
Dr Thamie Ndlovu’s PhD study investigated the use of social media as a tool for teaching and learning in higher education.

Watch him talk about his research.

Submitted on Fri, 10/28/2022 - 10:13