Exploring the impacts of social networking sites on academic relations in the university
Journal of Information Technology Education:Research
Office of International Academic Programmes, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Social networking sites (SNS) affordances for persistent interaction, collective generation of knowledge, and formation of peer-based clusters for knowledge sharing render them useful for developing constructivist knowledge environments. However, notwithstanding their academic value, these environments are not necessarily insulated from the exercise of academic/ power. Despite a growing corpus of literature on SNS's capacity to enhance social capital formation, foster trust, and connect interactants in remote locations, there is a dearth of research on how SNS potentially leverages academic /power relations in university settings. Mindful of the unsubstantiated nexus between power relations, knowledge construction, and academic appropriation of SNS, unraveling the impact of SNS on lecturer-student and student-peer power relations in the university can illuminate the understanding of this academic connection/puzzle. This work employs Critical Theory of Technology (CTT) and virtual case study method to explore the influence of SNS use on power relations of lecturers, students, and their peers in a blended (Facebook-enhanced) Information Technology course at a middle-sized South African university. The findings demonstrate that academic appropriation of SNS differentially empower academics and students at different times, and students employ various forms of sophisticated authorial language to territorialise power in their interactions with lecturers and peers. Academics and instructional designers are urged to examine different forms of language employed in lecturer-student and student-peer discourses to grasp student learning needs and to foster meaningful, knowledge-rich learning environments.
Academic relations; Affordances; Differential power; Instructional designer; Knowledge construction; Knowledge environment; Knowledge-sharing; Learning environments; Meaningful learning; Power relations; Remote location; Social capitals; Social networking sites; Student learning; Study methods; Engineering education; Information technology; Social sciences computing; Students; Teaching; Social networking (online)