Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: Expectations, frustrations, appropriation, and compartmentalization

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Veletsianos, George
Kimmons, Royce
French, Karen
Online social networks
Postsecondary education
Researchers and practitioners have suggested that the use of social networking sites in formal education may be a worthwhile endeavor. Toward this goal, emerging learning platforms have included social networking features. Nevertheless, empirical literature examining user experiences, and more specifically instructor experiences, with these tools is limited. In this qualitative study, we address this gap in the literature by reporting the experiences of five instructors who used a social networking platform in their courses. We find that instructors (a) had expectations of Elgg that stemmed from numerous sources, (b) used Elgg in heterogeneous ways and for varied purposes, (c) compartmentalized Elgg and used it in familiar ways, and (d) faced frustrations stemming from numerous sources. We note that the ways Elgg came to be used “on the ground” is contested and contrasts starkly with the narrative of how social software might contribute benefits to educational practice. In addition, we note that learning management systems may frame the ways through which other tools, such as social media and Elgg, are understood, used, and experienced.
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