Social Media in Chinese Language Class

Research-based Practice


  1.                                              What’s social media?

    Social media, Internet-based tools that promote collaboration and information sharing (Junco, Helbergert, & Loken, 2011), can be used in academic settings to promote student engagement and facilitate better student learning (Kabilan, Ahmad, & Abidin, 2010).

  2.                                                        Why Social Media?

    The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that although 73% of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 use social media, the rates of social media use are even higher (83%) for young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010; Madden & Zickuhr, 2011).  

    Nelson Laird and Kuh (2005) reported that students who use information technology for academics also have a higher likelihood of contributing and participating in active, academic collaboration with other students.  This collaboration indicates that as engagement with technology increases, engagement with academics also increases, promoting a deeper connection between the students, educators, and course content (Mehdinezhad, 2011).  

    Nowadays, most researchers agree that knowledge not only exists in individual minds but also in the discourse and interactions between individuals.  Such interactions support active participation, which is an essential element in student learning (Hrastinski, 2009).  Learners need to develop skills to share knowledge and to learn with others, both in face-to-face situations and through technology including social media.  Kabilan et al. (2010) found that students build learning communities by working collaboratively to construct knowledge.  Social media serves as a tool to facilitate the development of these learning communities by encouraging collaboration and communication

    Example of how Wiki on Blackboard is used to facilitate student communication and collaboration.  

  3. Social media usage within the academic setting also facilitates peer feedback on assignments and thoughtful student reflections on course content because of the ability for students to openly communicate with each other and develop strong relationships among peers (Arnold & Paulus, 2010; Ebner, Leinhardt, Rohs, & Meyer, 2010; Kuh, 1993).  

    Examples of formative feedback (Blog) from instructors, and peer feedback (Discussion)

  4.                                       Challenges in Using Social Media

    Arnold and Paulus (2010) found that even when social media is used for an educational purpose, students incorporate the technology into their lives in a way that may differ from the intentions of the course instructor.  For example, off-topic or non-academic discussions occur on social media because of its primary design as a social networking tool (Lin et al., 2013).

    The use of social media must be purposeful and as a result should be applied in situations that are the most appropriate for learning and student understanding to occur (Liu, 2010, Väljataga & Fiedler, 2009).  For example, social media is best used as an introductory tool for review and collaboration, not merely as a method of advertising class reminders (Annetta et al., 2009; Fewkes & McCabe, 2012).  Therefore, educators who are considering incorporating social media into their academic courses should ensure that the specific type of social media used matches the curriculum-based learning goals and learning outcomes for the students (Hofer & Harris, 2010). 

  5.                                                          References

    Annetta, L. A., Minogue, J., Holmes, S. Y., & Cheng, M. T. (2009). Investigating the impact of video games on high                           school students’ engagement and learning about genetics. Computers & Education, 53, 74-85. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.12.020

    Arnold, N., & Paulus, T. (2010). Using a social networking site for experiential learning: Appropriating, lurking, modeling and community building. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 188-196. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.04.002

    Ebner, M., Lienhardt, C., Rohs, M., & Meyer, I. (2010). Microblogs in higher education: A chance to facilitate informal and process-oriented learning? Computers & Education, 55, 92-100. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2009.12.006

    Fewkes, A. M., & McCabe, M. (2012). Facebook: Learning tool or distraction? Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(3), 92-98.

    Hofer, M., & Harris, J.(2010). Differentiating TPACK Development: Using Learning Activity Types with

    Inservice and Preservice Teachers. In C. D. Maddux, D. Gibson, & B. Dodge (Eds.). Research highlights in technology and teacher education 2010 (pp. 295-302). Chesapeake, VA: Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE).

    Hrastinski, S. (2009). A theory of online learning as online participation. Computers & Education, 52, 78-82. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.06.009

    Junco, R., Helbergert, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27, 119-132. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x

    Kabilan, M. K., Ahmad, N., & Abidin, M. J. Z. (2010). Facebook: An online environment for learning of English in institutions of higher education? Internet and Higher Education, 13, 179-187. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.07.003

    Kuh, G. D. (1993). In their own words: What students learn outside the classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 30, 277-304. doi: 10.3102/00028312030002277

    Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Aaron, S., & Zickuhr, K. (2010). Social media & mobile Internet use among teens and young adults. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from 

    Lin, P. C., Hou, H. T., Wang, S. M., & Chang, K. E. (2013). Analyzing knowledge dimensions and cognitive process of a project-based online discussion instructional activity using Facebook in an adult and continuing education course. Computers & Education, 60, 110-121. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.07.017

    Liu, Y. (2010). Social media tools as a learning resource. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 3, 101-114.

    Madden, M., & Zickhur, K. (2011). 65% of online adults use social networking sites: Women maintain their foothold on SNS use and older Americans are still coming aboard. Pew Internet & American Life Project.  Retrieved from: 

    Mehdinezhad, V. (2011). First year students' engagement at the university. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 3(1), 47-66.

    Nelson Laird, T. F., & Kuh, G. D. (2005). Student experiences with information technology and their relationship to other aspects of student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46, 211-233. doi: 10.1007/s11162-004-1600-y

    Väljataga, T., & Fiedler, S. (2009). Supporting students to self-direct intentional learning projects with social media. Educational Technology and Society, 12(3), 58-69.