Social media pedagogy: a multiple case study approach

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Nantais, Michael
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Social media are often touted to have the potential to transform education. These media enable students to connect with others from around the world, to work collaboratively, and to share their learning with an authentic audience. The literature offers support, yet raises questions about this promise. The intent of this research was to examine how and why some classroom teachers make use of social media for teaching and to determine if, and how, this changes their pedagogical practices. A qualitative, interpretivist multiple case study approach was used to tell the stories of nine teachers in a rural Canadian prairie school as they explored and implemented various social media in their teaching practices. A hermeneutic and phenomenological approach formed the theoretical framework guiding this study. The primary source of data was a multi-part interview consisting of conversations held over the six-month study. Participants reflected upon and shared their perspectives as they made use of social media in their teaching practice. Other data sources included a variety of relevant documents such as school plans and online interactions undertaken by the participants. The analysis followed a constant comparative thematic analysis method, providing a rich exploration of the phenomenon of social media pedagogy. The teachers in this study generally found their use of social media to be a positive experience; however, several challenges and areas of concern were identified. The teachers’ reasons for using social media included communication, engagement and motivation, exposure of student work to a broader audience, and collaborative activities. Supports for implementing social media were identified and included good access to working technology and professional learning. The teachers raised concerns such as privacy, safety, and time constraints. Ethical and appropriate use of social media was seen not only as a concern, but also as an opportunity to teach. Impacts on teaching practice ranged from the addition of strategies to teaching repertoires, to change that could be considered as transformative learning. One of the most significant results was the apparent effect on the school environment. Trust and responsibility were extended to students, and the response was increased communication and connection between students and teachers.
social media, educational technology, teaching, case study, social constructivism, transformative learning, change, pedagogy, rural education, grades 7-12