Technology and Innovation in Higher Education Blog Post

While researching for this week’s blog post, I came across how faculty and higher educational institutions in developing countries are exploiting social media platforms for enabling knowledge transfer in these unique times.  The articles that I found are based on Egypt [1] and Pakistan [2]. The premise is that the public institutions in developing countries do not have access to formal online learning management systems (LMS) for facilitating communication with students and/or among faculty members. Therefore, the students and faculty are coming up with innovative ways to use social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube to facilitate learning.  For instance, Sobaih, Hassen, and Abu Elnas noted that the universities have encouraged faculty to communicate with students using official Facebook pages and formal groups on WhatsApp [1]. In his short letter, Khan discussed that his department used Facebook live to conduct online classes and shared recorded videos on WhatsApp to promote the revision of these classes [2].

Sobaih, Hassen, and Abu Elnasr [1] investigated the use of social media for sustaining formal academic communication in universities in Egypt. In particular, they surveyed students and faculty from nine colleges providing a bachelor’s degree in tourism and hotel education. I encourage the readers to go read their conclusions section as they have made several interesting findings. Of all their findings, I thought the most interesting finding was the difference in the way students and faculty used social media – students used it to build an online community to support each other, and faculty were focused on teaching and learning.  Another interesting finding that they made, in my opinion,  is regarding how students preferred social media over ZOOM and Google Classroom. They also highlighted about 15 challenges that were identified by students and faculty with respect to using social media as a tool to foster online learning. Hopefully, Facebook can address these challenges and provide a free service to promote online learning in developing countries.

Both the authors expressed a strong belief that social media could promote a new era of social learning. As someone from a developing country, it is personally very fascinating for me to see how social media has evolved from something my parents didn’t want me to use when I was young to something that they use very regularly and that it is also revealing unique opportunities.

[1] Sobaih, A. E. E., Hasanein, A. M., & Abu Elnasr, A. E. (2020). Responses to COVID-19 in higher education: Social media usage for sustaining formal academic communication in developing countries. Sustainability12(16), 6520.

[2] Khan, T. M. (2020). Use of social media and WhatsApp to conduct teaching activities during the COVID‐19 lockdown in Pakistan. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice.

2 Replies to “Technology and Innovation in Higher Education Blog Post”

  1. Hello,

    I too think that the way social media has evolved into something useful and productive is interesting. Growing up, I was also always warned about using social media by my parents. I have created and deactivated/deleted various forms of social media several times over the years. I always thought that the negative aspects and things that happened/people did on the platforms outweighed the positives. I actually just now created a Facebook and Instagram, and have been surprised to find it a little bit more useful now. Maybe these platforms will continue to grow and develop into useful tools, both in higher education and otherwise.

    Austin Garren

  2. Hi Vamsi,

    Thank you for sharing your reflections on these articles. I think there is a lot of value in the evolution of social media and the broad community that currently uses it. For some it can be merely a source of entertainment, while for others is an education tool or a way to stay in touch with family and friends when you are away. There are clearly a variety of challenges that come with accessibility to social media depending on where you are in the world and the restrictions that may come with that. I think is interesting the contrast between the different usages that the community gives to social media and the kind of role it plays on their daily lives. Social media is clearly becoming a platform with a very active role in every day tasks as well as a tool that holds great power in the dissemination of information.

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