Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research for Business Instruction

Integrating Social Media into the Learning Environment of the Classroom: Following Social Constructivism Principles

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research for Business Instruction

Integrating Social Media into the Learning Environment of the Classroom: Following Social Constructivism Principles

Article excerpt


New forms of business communication have emerged mainly from social media communication technologies as a result of the volatile nature of today's diverse, global, and constantly changing workplace. Consequently, business communication instructors must integrate these new communication trends into their course curricula to prepare students effectively to function well in the business world (Levinson, 2008; Ober, 2009; Paulsell, 2008).

Social media sites have emerged as a revolutionary means of communication. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and Linkedln are examples of social media that people all over the world are using to communicate and interact (Dyrud, 2011; Smith, 2011). For instance, Facebook reached the 750million active-member mark in the summer of 2011 (Kincaid, 2011). In addition, the top 10 social media sites have reached a total of 2.9 billion registered users, which is almost half the world's population ("Top 10 Social Networking Sites," 2011). In short, "we are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found" (Sparrow, Liu, & Weg ? er, 2011, p. 4).

Students are using social media in and out of the classroom to communicate with others. In fact, the amount of time spent by students on social network activity and blogs has experienced a 43% increase, occupying 13.5 minutes out of one hour of Internet usage time, twice the amount of gaming and almost three times that of email (The Nielsen Company, 2010). Educators in our nation, including business education teachers, must take advantage of this new way of communicating and find effective and efficient ways to integrate these social media networking sites into the curriculum. Because the eight principles of social constructivism contained in Löfström and Nevgi's framework (2006) coincide with the ways that social media enhance learning (KeIm, 2011), the purpose of this paper is to explain social constructivism, present Löfström and Nevgi's eight principles, and provide classroom applications for each of the eight principles that demonstrate an effective and efficient method for business educators to integrate social media into the learning environment of their classrooms.

Social Constructivism

The theory of social constructivism defines knowledge as something that is constructed within a social context in a collaborative way. That is, learning is viewed as a situation in which people construct their own meaning of what is being presented to them, avoiding simple memorization of information. In addition, learning is best achieved when it occurs within a social context through an active and constructive process (Dewey, 1933; Koohang, Riley, Smith, &Schreurs, 2009; Piaget, 1972; Vygotsky, 1978). This constructive process requires the use of alternative assessments, such as graded classroom discussions and project-based assignments, instead of the traditional multiplechoice tests (Overbaya, Patterson, Vasua, & Grablec, 2010).

Framework to Integrate Social Media into the Learning Environment

Löfström and Nevgi (2006) provided a framework that uses social constructivism principles to effectively and efficiently integrate innovative technologies into the learning environment of the classroom. The framework has eight principles:

1. Learners construct knowledge as a collective activity.

2. Learners benefit from the cognitive process of working towards a goal.

3. Learners use previous knowledge to build on new knowledge.

4. Learners' thinking and actions lead to empowerment, commitment, and responsibility.

5. Learners actively and purposely set cognitive objectives.

6. Learners collaborate by sharing knowledge with other members of a community, engaging In dialogue and receiving feedback.

7. Learners reflect on the process and understand the Implications. …

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