The space for social media in structured online learning

  • Gilly Salmon Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education Innovation), The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
  • Bella Ross Student Academic Support Unit, Monash University, Monash, Caulfield, VIC, Australia
  • Ekaterina Pechenkina Learning Transformations Unit, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, VIC, Australia
  • Anne-Marie Chase Australian Council for Educational Research, Camberwell, VIC, Australia
Keywords: MOOCs, social media, learning design, online identity, Facebook, Twitter


In this paper, we explore the benefits of using social media in an online educational setting, with a particular focus on the use of Facebook and Twitter by participants in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed to enable educators to learn about the Carpe Diem learning design process. We define social media as digital social tools and environments located outside of the provision of a formal university-provided Learning Management System. We use data collected via interviews and surveys with the MOOC participants as well as social media postings made by the participants throughout the MOOC to offer insights into how participants’ usage and perception of social media in their online learning experiences differed and why. We identified that, although some participants benefitted from social media by crediting it, for example, with networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities, others objected or refused to engage with social media, perceiving it as a waste of their time. We make recommendations for the usage of social media for educational purposes within MOOCs and formal digital learning environments.

Keywords: MOOCs; social media; learning design; online identity; Facebook; Twitter

(Published: 15 December 2015)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2015, 23: 28507 -


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How to Cite
Salmon G., Ross B., Pechenkina E., & Chase A.-M. (2015). The space for social media in structured online learning. Research in Learning Technology, 23.
Original Research Articles