Social networking in higher education: academics' attitudes, uses, motivations and concerns

ALSOLAMY, Fahd (2017). Social networking in higher education: academics' attitudes, uses, motivations and concerns. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

The main objective of this thesis is to investigate and understand faculty members’attitudes towards, motivations for and concerns about using social networking sites (SNSs), as well as uses thereof, for educational purposes, particularly in the gender segregated educational setting of Saudi Arabian universities. This study identifies faculty members’ perspectives on SNSs and the ways in which academics in Saudi Arabia employ these social networks as educational tools to improve teaching methods and learning styles. Interviews were conducted with 32 faculty members at King Abdul-Aziz University and King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. These particular universities were selected because of their location, size, diversity and academic standing. Those participants were chosen to form the research sample and to represent equally the two universities, the two genders and different degree subjects. Growing use of SNSs has motivated academics and researchers to study social networks and their connection to other fields of study. Several studies have examined integration of SNSs in education. However, a review of previous research in this domain has revealed that further research is required. This thesis, therefore, aims to develop the existing literature through its close focus on qualitative accounts of academics’ usage in Saudi Arabia, particularly since the Saudi government has led several initiatives which have been considered essential interventions and developments in politics, society, education, and various other aspects. Most of the academics involved in this study (91%) use SNSs — particularly WhatsApp (88%), Twitter (84%), Facebook (78%), and YouTube (63%) — for educational purposes. These academics see SNSs as supportive and useful tools and, importantly, methods for facilitating learning, teaching and communication. Motivations for using SNSs include: overcoming social restrictions (e.g. gender segregation), enhancing collaboration and exchanging experiences, generating and improving content, and developing a more critical and reflective thinking. On the other hand, many faculty members (62%) have different concerns about employing these platforms in the academic setting. Cultural and social concerns, protecting academics’ image online, and privacy worries have been identified as the three greatest challenges facing the implementation of SNSs in the higher educational institutions. Many existing studies of privacy and other concerns are written from a Western perspective and its view of privacy — this research expands that discussion by analysing these issues from a non-Western, conservative nation. This thesis explores how cultural and social traditions are both challenged and enhanced by SNSs; for example, it shows that online interactions in gender-segregated societies can provide more information and expand understanding about the opposite gender more than do offline settings. Although these online interactions break the norm of gender segregation, the majority of Saudi users do not completely challenge their cultural and social traditions, and the impact of their social values and principles is clearly apparent in their perspectives and behaviours when using these platforms. Therefore, these findings can advance the understanding of integrating SNSs educationally in the context of a conservative society, and contribute to expanding the current literature on this topic.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2017 15:13
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2017 06:08
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15852

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