Constructive Disruptions for Effective Collaborative Learning: Navigating the Affordances of Social Media for Meaningful Engagement pp132-146
The essentialist view that new technological innovations (especially Social Media) disrupt higher education delivery ride on educators’ risk averse attitudes toward full scale adoption of unproven technologies. However, this unsubstantiated logic forecloses possibilities for embracing the constructive dimensions of disruptions, and grasping the tremendous academic potential of emerging technologies. Community of inquiry and virtual ethnography were adopted as theoretical and methodological lenses for exploring the productive pedagogical impacts of appropriating Social Media in an Information Systems course at a South African University. Lecturer‑student and peer‑based postings on Facebook were examined to understand the influence of Facebook adoption on student meaningful learning and pedagogical delivery. The findings suggest that Facebook constituted a collective “Third space” for student enactment of counter scripts, augmented traditional academic networking, fostered “safe” havens for student democratic expression, and afforded learning communities for student co‑construction of knowledge. Shortfalls identified include challenges of developing quality academic discussions and fostering student engagement at epistemological and conceptual levels to ensure deep learning. The study recommends a multi‑pronged strategy that foregrounds contingent relaxation of academic authority, on‑task student behavior, strategic alignment of powerful collaborative technologies with pedagogical designs, and learning needs and styles of students.