Exploring the role Social Media plays in the student learning experience of 2014 university life in NZ
The purpose of this study is to explore how university students and lecturers use social media to support their learning and particularly to understand how such emerging technologies usage impacts student learning experience and class communication. In this research, social media tools under consideration are social networking sites, media sharing sites, creation and publishing tools, social bookmarking, and the Internet messaging. This research employed purposive selection to obtain the quality of data from semi-structured interviews of twelve students and four lecturers from the Victoria University of Wellington who are known to have experience of using social media tools in their courses. The study identified two major usages of social media to support learning activities, five key usage activities for students and four major usage activities for lecturers. Students’ choices and usages of social media applications were more diverse compared to the lecturers. The usages and preferences of students from different disciplines were varied. Moreover, there were numbers of social media interactions and communication among the students and their peers. Even though the interaction and communication between students and lecturers through social media was minimum due to the limited uses of social media for formal learning in class by lecturers and students, the lecturers and students expressed that the usage of social media helped improve class communication. Students’ engagement was only area that affected by social media choices and communication using social media by lecturers. The choices and communication by students would affect greater and wider aspects of student learning experience such as learning ability, communication and collaboration, problem solving, access to information, and productivity. Even though the usage of social media to support learning by students and lecturers did not impact student learning experience equally, the findings suggest that it helps facilitate learning activities, benefit students, and enhance the student learning experience to some extent.