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Social
media are becoming popular channel for communication. The tremendous exposure
of social media today has changed a new communication channel for all business
process. Although it is for better support or worse, social media is very
powerful because many organizations begin to initiate strategies and allocate
resources to engage effectively with social media platform. Higher education as
organizational learning is expected to concern with this situation because the
orientation of education today exposed to students centered learning mechanism
to provide them with a holistic learning experience. Social media was realized
as an innovative and effective tool to provide innovative ways of involving and
motivating students in the learning process. Therefore, there is a need to
investigate how students perceive and use social media in providing a
pedagogically virtual learning environment that could enhance their learning
experience. To achieve the goals of infusing social media into traditional
pedagogical approach, the research investigates the preferences channel of
social media for collaborative learning in the context of higher education as
educational platform. A descriptive survey method used in this evaluation to
show the trend in higher education. The result clearly describes social media
preferences in the community of higher education so that learners can be
actively engaged with learning process and flexible environments for global
communication sharing.

Keywords:  Social
Media, pedagogical, academics, Students centered learning, virtual learning,
Social Media technologies

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INTRODUCTION

The
integration of IT media and services in higher education has led to substantial
changes in the ways in which both students and instructors study, learn, and
teach 1, 2, 3. Accordingly, a survey of students’ and instructors’ media
usage habits has been conducted at Ibra College of Technology in 2018. This
survey purports to measure the extent to which media services are used in
teaching and learning as well as to assess changes in media usage patterns. The
survey focuses primarily on the media usage habits of students and instructors.
Based on assessing the way in which media use relates to academic education,
that means teaching and studying. The identification of trends aims to provide
an evidence base upon which more reliable predictions can anticipate future
trends of media usage in higher education. The basic idea is that current
academic education is utilizing (and influenced by) media, that are a
combination of traditional (e.g., printed books and journals) and new (e.g.,
Google and Wikipedia) media. The actual situation has developed from former
media usage habits, and these habits might change with the introduction of new
media. Partial results involving instructors and students only from the Ibra
College of Technology are considered. Other more focused survey on mobile
learning maturity and specific for m-learning have been carried out recently in
papers 5, 6, 7. Short-term academic education will likely be influenced
by the level of satisfaction of media usage habits 8, 9. This media usage
survey will provide educational researchers with a deeper and more detailed
understanding of students’ and instructors´ technology usage in learning and of
possible environmental factors that may influence that usage. This survey
intended to incorporate the entire spectrum of media services, focusing on the
following objectives: 

·        
Evaluating media use in
detail, including media use frequency, satisfaction with, and acceptance of
both internal or university-provided and external services, print media,
electronic text, social media, information technology, communication media,
e-learning services, and IT hardware. 

·        
Determining factors that
might influence media use in learning, such as cultural differences, age, sex,
and academic level as well as identifying similarities among student media
usage. 

·        
Creating a knowledge base
for universities to understand the media usage of students and instructors.

·        
Assessing prospective
media trends and supporting the definition of media development as one of the
strategic ideas at universities. 

·        
Evaluating user
satisfaction; thus media quality is also evaluated by measuring the acceptance
of services used by students and instructors.

 

Background

Technology
has changed the way people interact. Internet is now easily accessible using
mobile phones costing a minimum amount. Service providers have also helped
provide easy access to internet by going a step further to provide special
offers in order for people to access internet. It is been observed that the
youth have really been behind the increasing demand for data to support their
preferred communication channels. These preferred communication channels are
the Social Networking Sites (SNS). Teenagers are among the most avid users of
technology in general and social network sites in particular (Lenhart, Madden,
Macgill & Smith (2007b). Recent reports find that youth spend nearly 10
hours per day using some form of technology with socially networked media
playing a large role in their daily lives (Rideout, Foehr & Robert 2010).

Neelamalar
& Chitra (2009), state that members of social sites can easily form groups
(called communities) and share their opinions among themselves through
discussions threads, forums and polls. On their research on the impact of
social network on Indian youth they found out that 95% who are members in one
or more social networking sites spend varying amount of time from less than an
hour to five hours every day in social networking sites. They also found out
that 95% of the youth find the social networking sites as a platform for
reconnecting with lost friends, maintaining existing relationships and sharing
knowledge, ideas and opinions.

Moreno
& Kelb (2012) observed that for adolescents social networking sites are an
important medium for self-expression, communication with friends and peer
feedback. They further assert that 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite
social networking sites more than ten times a day. Studies have shown that
adolescents often believe social networking sites reference to be accurate
which may influence their own perception and actions (Moreno & Kelb: 2012)

Sunitha
and Narayan (2010) observe that social networking has become part of the daily
life experience for an increasing number of people. They also further point out
that the rapid adoption of social network sites by teenagers in the United
States and in many other countries around the world raises some important
questions. Ahn (2010) observes that while teenagers are engaged with technology
they are more disengaged from another major component of 4 their lives –
school.No one denies that youth use these technologies to communicate with the
world, and they do so with high frequency and intensity (Lenhart et al.,
2007b).

Most
learning institutions have gone a step further and blocked access to SNS
through their networks but it is important to acknowledge that students own
phones and other gadgets which they can use at home. It is therefore necessary
for both educators and parents to recognize the fact that there is high usage
of SNS by secondary school students and it is vital to find out what are the
effects of these online communities on students’academic performance.

Literature review:

A. The Role of WhatsApp in Teaching
Vocabulary to Iranian EFL Learners at Junior High School

This
is a paper by Sanaz Jafari and Azizeh Chalak of Islamic Azad University,
Isfahan, Iran. In this paper they presented a study about the role of WhatsApp
in the vocabulary learning improvement of Iranian junior high school EFL
students. A pre-test and post-test were used. The result of the work revealed that
using WhatsApp had significant role in vocabulary learning of the students.9

B. Distance Learning and Facebook?s Usage
in the Study Process: Students? Attitude

This
is a paper by Vilmant? Kumpikait?-Vali?nien?. This paper analyzed the role of
facebook in study process. This paper states that Facebook should be
implemented into study process in future decades. This is even more attractive
and comfortable when Facebook became connected with Skype. However explored
Lithuanian students are quite critic and conservative about Facebook’s using in
the study process as use it more for leisure and disport at the moment, but
from the other hand they prefer to use the same media for all purposes10.

C. Learners’ Views Regarding the Use of
Social Networking Sites in Distance Learning

This
is a work by Özmen and At?c? of Firat University, Turkey. In this study, they
examined the use of learning management systems supported by social networking
sites in distance education and to determine the views of learners regarding
these platforms. Semi-structured interview with open-ended questions were used
to collect the data. Content analysis was used in the analysis of the data. The
results of the study shows that within the scope of the course that the
students have positive attitudes towards the use of social networking sites and
distance education applications and these applications have positively affected
the quality of communication between instructors and students11.

D. To use or not to use? Social media in
higher education in developing Countries.

Abu
Elnasr E. Sobaih , Mohamed A. Moustafa , Parvis Ghandforoush and Mahmood Khan
introduced the role of social media in higher education. This paper encompasses
the universal use of social media by students for academic related purposes. It
bridges a gap in knowledge in relation to the value and use of social media as
effective teaching and learning tool in higher education in developing
countries. Several barriers among the social media usage for higher education
were identified with some specific to developing countries’ context. They
proposes that the faculty that if these barriers were overcome, social media
could be developed as an innovative and effective tool for teaching and
learning. Implications for researchers and policy makers are discussed.

C. Impact of Social Media for academic
collaboration

Related
studies have concluded that social media has played a very vital role in
improving student’s academic performance. Assessing the association and impact
of these handy communication methods offered by Social media, it was evaluated
that these complex features can help the student to improve learning through
engagement with other people online 8. Research done by Khan, Wohn, &
Ellison 9 used the quantitative methodology to analyse the informal aspect of
social media in improving students’ academic performance. Henderson, Synder and
Beale 10 discussed that by employing the original survey methodology
regarding the implementation of social media that it could be helpful in the
classrooms as new perspectives are offered through social media use. Moreover,
it also creates new strategies that assist the students in their learning
though it was not successful in stopping the students from its negative use.

SOCIAL MEDIA AN EDUCATION TOOL

Most
of the current social networking media are quantitative and hold immense
potential for data collection. To make social networking media an educational
tool we have to make it qualitative for which proper mining is required. Mining
should be done effectively and refined data should be made secure for creating
proper socio-academic environment. Classroom integration with learning communities
will increase overall social integration. Many research findings indicate that
without these kind of integrations student can be knowledgeable but not
expressive. Conventional teaching and learning pedagogies need some refinement
that is possible with these kinds of socio educational tools.

Social
media can improve the personality of individual. Now social media is a great
catalyst for education. Just one click and you got what you want to learn. It’s
that simple, you click-you engage-you learn. Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing was
never been so simple. Timing constraint has been removed, so anyone can learn
during your off hours. Teacher student interaction is now more interactive and
without hesitation. Questions are more honest from behind a screen though this
is not the same for everyone. Quality, success, and efficiency of education can
be improved using computer. We can get instant feedback from peer. Ease of
displaying the content allows designing audio-visual learning environments. We
can archive course content.

Social Networking Sites

With
the increase of technology used for communicating with others and the
popularity of the Internet, ?Social Networking? has become an activity that is
done primarily on the Internet, with sites like MySpace, Facebook, Bebo,
Friendster, and Xanga (Coyle et al., 2008).

Paul,
Baker & Cochran (2012), in his research on effect of online social
networking on student academic performance found that there is statistically
significant negative relationship between time spent by students on online
social networks and their academic performance.

Studies
of adolescents’use of SNS showed that their profiles contained a wealth of
intimate, candid, and publicly available information on a wide range of social
issues. According to Williams and Merten (2008), university students are often
found to be obsessed with their Facebook profile or Twitter page.

The
researchers matched this path of identity exploration and role experimentation
to Erik Erikson’s development stages (Erikson 1968). Erikson’s theory suggests
that adolescents between the ages of 13-18 will experience a period of
psychosocial crisis – identity versus role confusion. While undergoing this
development stage, adolescents become conscious about sexual identity, peer
relationships and other social interactions. Willams and Mertne also suggested
that the over-dependency on these media may affect a student’s attendance at
school (2008).

Khan
(2012) using the theory of Erikson (1953) noted that in this age of life a
student cannot differentiate between his identity and role inside society and
he cannot solve the conflict within his role in society and his real identity,
to resolve this confusion student get attracted to social networking websites
because in between social networking websites he or she finds a virtual life
and friends which cannot let him or her (student) to be bored even for single moment.

Trusov,
Bucklin, and Pauwels (2009) noted that the Internet is no doubt evolution of
technology but specifically social networks are extremely unsafe for teenagers,
social networks become hugely common and well-known in past few years.

2.2 Social Networking Sites and Academic Performance

Ahn
(2011) argues that to date, two studies exemplify the debate surrounding SNS,
youth, and educational achievement. A conference paper by Karpinski (2009)
received much media attention with findings that college Facebook users have
lower GPAs than students who are not users of the site.

Karpinski
offers several hypotheses for these findings. For example, perhaps Facebook
users spend too much time online and less time studying. However, the study did
not rigorously examine counter hypotheses and remains a rather exploratory,
basic attempt to understand the effect of SNS on learning (Khan, 2011).

Kuppuswamy
and Shankar (2010) argue that social network websites grab attention of the
students and then divert it towards non-educational and inappropriate actions
including useless chatting time killing by random searching and not doing their
jobs. However, many researchers also found a positive association between use
of internet and SNS and academic performance of the student users.

Wiley
and Sisson (2006) argued that the previous studies have found that more than
90% of college students use social networks. In the same way Ellison,
Steinfield, and Lampe (2007) stated that the students use social networking
websites approximately 30 minutes throughout the day as a part of their daily
routine life.

Benzie
(2007) noted that the Canadian government prohibited employees from
Facebook.com. In the same way Boyd & Ellison (2007) also pointed out that
the U.S. Congress has proposed legislation to ban youth from accessing social
networking websites in schools and libraries.

According
to Khan(2012) it is international law that one must be 18 years old minimum to
use social networking websites but unfortunately, Lennart& Madden (2007) calculated
a huge amount of underage users which must be violated. According to
Lenhart& Madden (2007) calculation it has been analyzed that 41% of 12–13
years old and 61% of 14–17 years old users use social networking websites.

Charlene
Li et al., (2007) estimated that students are more likely to use social
networking websites; nearly 47% of teenagers (12 to 17year olds) and 69% of
young adults (18 to 21year olds) and 20% of adults (18+) use social networking
sites, and only 20% use them to contact other people.

According
to Charlene Li et al (2007) student activity on social networking sites focuses
on communicating with each other. Khan (2012) notes that the most popular
activities done by students and users on social networking sites revolve around
looking at profiles of one another, searching for someone here and there, or
updating one’s own profile, eavesdropping (sensing others activities on social
networking websites and analyzing their posts). All these scholarly articles
point to one thing, that students spend a lot of precious study time on these
social networking sites interacting with others other than doing their school
work.

Ahn
(2011) informs that research on SNS, social capital, and psychological
well-being offers an additional link to student learning through the mechanism
of academic engagement. The concept of engagement can be defined in behavioral,
emotional, and cognitive terms (Fredericks, Blumenfeld , 2004).

Behavioral
engagement refers to participation in academic, social, or extracurricular
activities. Emotional engagement describes the positive and negative feelings
students may have towards teachers, peers, and the broader school community.
Cognitive engagement depicts the idea that a student is willing to expend the
energy to comprehend difficult concepts and learn new skills. As noted in this
review, much of the research on SNS suggests that as students more frequently
interact with their network, they develop higher quality relationships with
others.

Education
researchers who examine the social context of learning in areas such as
out-of-school time, extracurricular activity and classroom climate also find a
link between high-quality relationships, students’academic engagement, and
achievement (Eccles& Templeton, 2002; Feldman & Matjasko, 2005; Martin
& Dowson, 2009). A major hypothesis among education researchers is that
youth participation in extracurricular and school activities increases their
social connectedness with teachers and peers (Eccles& Templeton, 2002; Feldman
& Matjasko, 2005). Ahn (2011) further informs that this connectedness is
related to increased engagement with school and academics.

Engagement
has also been related to a lesser likelihood to drop out of school (Fredericks
et al., 2004). These hypotheses are still major questions for education
research. SNS offer a new context within which to observe how relationships
influence school engagement, grades, and student achievement (Ahn 2011).

MAIN FOCUS OF THE ARTICLE

Since
the major thrust of this research is to provide an accurate and valid
representation of the challenges and perceptions towards use of social media in
universities, a descriptive research design was considered the most suitable approach.
This research design used a survey research methodology wherein a questionnaire
was used as the main research tool. Questions included demographics, challenges
and perceptions. The respondents were asked to rank and comment on different
questions. This was used to determine the weight or the importance of each challenge
and perception. The questionnaires included a combination of both structured and
semi-structured questions.

The questionnaires were distributed to students and
lecturers as hard copies. The questionnaires were distributed at random 

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