Use of Social Media in Technology Enhanced Learning
Ali S. Al Musawi
Sultan Qaboos University
A short biographies of each contributor
Dr Ali Sharaf Al Musawi has obtained his PhD on learning resources and technology centers in
1995 from Southampton University, UK. He works for the Sultan Qaboos University since 1985.
At present, he is an associate professor at the Instructional and Learning Technologies Department
at the College of Education. He has published several journal research articles, chapters in
reviewed books, and papers; and contributed in many conferences, symposia, and workshops. He
conducted and compiled several national, regional, and Arab studies and reports. He wrote a book
on cooperative learning in 1992, contributed in writing another in 2003 and an educational lexicon
in 2014; and published a book on learning resources and technology centers in 2004. He also
translated, with others, two books on e-learning strategies and instructional multimedia to Arabic
in 2005 and 2010. Dr Ali has several activities in fields of instructional skills development, study
skills, instructional design, and web-based design; his interests include Arabic poetry; he published
two anthologies in addition to other hand-written ones.
College of Education (COE), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU)
POB 32, PC 123 Al Khodh, Sultanate of Oman
O. (+968) 24413198; F. (+968) 24413817
Personal Website: www.al-musawi.com
The research on students' use of social media in educational fields and environments in the Arabian
States of the Gulf region is scarce and scattered. This chapter explores research in this area by
analyzing results from previous studies on the patterns of students' use of social media in learning
and exchange of information. The chapter first selects literature sources with specific scope and
procedures to locate studies that meet a set of criteria. Comprehensive reviews of relevant studies
are conducted to collect information, which is followed, by conclusions and recommendations.
The Arab States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) should keep pace with the tremendous
influence and speed of change that Social Media (SM) exert on their people lives. Data show that
the three most used SM are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with Facebook in the lead. According
to Reyaee and Ahmed (2015), "Internet has the potential to be a multi-vocal platform through
which every segment of the society can have their voices heard" (p. 23). Growth of social media
usage has been strong in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with users growing
over 50% (Dubai School of Government, 2013). Some GCC states have taken tangible steps in
adopting social media through government departments and fulfilling the ministry’s duties and
communication with their citizens. Some public figures use social media to gauge public opinion
on governments issues (Al-Badi, 2013).
However, research on using social media for educational purposes is limited. Researchers need to
investigate the use of social media by learners and publish the results so that others can be informed
of best practices. This chapter analyzes research in this area to determine the patterns of students'
use of social media in learning and exchange of information.
Body of chapter
Data Analysis Approaches
1. Analysis approach: By analysis, we mean quantitative form of educational related literature
review about earlier research with shared statistical measure (e.g. effect size and research
quality) to identify the effect or relationship of interest. The method and procedures involve
the following steps (Hunter et al., 1982; Schmidt, 1984):
a) Locate all relevant and usable studies containing information about the effect of interest.
b) Code each study for characteristics that may be related to the size of the effect obtained in the
c) Calculate estimates, variance and means of effect sizes for variables across studies.
d) Determine the amount of variance in effect sizes.
e) If a sufficiently large percentage of variance across studies can be attributed to the preceding
artifacts, the meta-analysis ends.
f) If a large percentage of variance across studies is unaccounted for by statistical artifacts,
determine whether study characteristics can account for the residual variance.
The research studies reviewed on the use of SM in education in the GCC states are listed in Table
1. Other articles and documents are however used to support the research arguments.
Please Place Table 1 here
2. Online ethnography approach: Online ethnography is ethnographic study based on the digital
methods and interactions using Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, and forums specifically
within the educational online format. The method and procedures combine quantitative (e.g.
frequencies of word use) and qualitative (dialogue analysis) techniques. The procedure is
adapted making cultural entrée, data collection, analyzing data, and conducting ethical research
contingencies and provide sets of specific guidelines (Kozinets, 2006). Online ethnography
enables the researcher to access huge datasets with possibility for collaboration and direct
participant input from variety of sources and platforms. To achieve the objective of online
ethnography study, a Facebook study group of 'Evaluation in Educational Technology' course
designed and taught at Sultan Qaboos University, was selected for analysis purposes.
Social Media in Education
Lenhart, et al. (2010) conducted a survey for the Pew Research Center Project on Social Media
(SM) and concluded that teens and young adults are the two groups who go online using wireless
internet or cell phones. They found that Facebook and YouTube are the most used SM among
students. Transforming the students' learning to improve their academic performance with SM
should be a future goal for the educational institutions especially with new generations of learners
whose technology skills develop at early stage of their lives.
According to the literature, educational application of SM seems to be mostly effective (Curcher,
2011; Liu and Stevenson, 2012), although other literature show no impact for their use (e.g., Kolek
and Saunders, 2008; Pasek, et. al., 2009; Hamat, et. al., 2012). Literature shows that spread of SM
such as Facebook and Twitter can support traditional classroom communication (Lugano, 2008).
Oradini and Saunders (2008) suggest that educational institutions need to have their own closed
Zaidieh (2012) states that SM in education are beneficial for their "flexibility, repeatable,
convenience, and accessibility". The following is a list of benefits which are mentioned by
researchers (Hiltz, Coppola, Rotter, and Turoff, 2000, cited in Yang and Tang, 2003; Boyd, 2007,
cited in Flad, 2010; Firpo, 2009; Eller, 2012).
1. Helping the students to express themselves and construct knowledge,
2. Making learning more interactive,
3. Sharing information and the multimedia environment, and;
4. Providing the students with authentic experiences and increase their understanding of shared
Schlenkrich and Sewry (2012) listed the following factors for the successful use of SM in
Fast internet connection;
Privacy and security measures for all users;
Legal and acceptable activities;
Current and controversial issues, checking suspect information;
Separation of personal and professional activities;
Professional and ethical content; and,
Positive attitude toward the use of SM and other users.
Social Media in education at GCC states
Background to technology in GCC States education
The development in digital technologies have presented the world of education with new methods
in the delivery of teaching and learning. GCC states are no exception of this global transformation
process; they begin to establish e-government, education portals, and education technology
programs (Al Musawi, 2010). In addition, educational institutions in the GCC States, especially at
higher education level, highlight the importance of technology to support students by the
introduction of wireless connections, fully supported multimedia laboratories, and continued
Instructional technologies are implemented in teaching where teaching rooms are connected to the
internet and students use Moodle as a learning management tool. In Omani Basic Education in
particular, teaching and learning technology considered the most important factors that contribute
to achieving effective learning using appropriate teaching aids along with appropriate education
strategies and good implementation and timing to achieve goals. Students increasingly use the
internet and SM but there is little research evidence of its use in fields of learning, specifically in
the Arab educational environment (Al Musawi, 2013).
Al Musawi and Ammar (2015) findings show that the Omani students frequently use the internet
and email several times per day with the minimum use of the internet being 1-2 days per week.
They find that wireless connections and mobile technologies spread quickly among the students
and wire-based connections are used from their homes. Research also shows that Saudis
increasingly use SM and prefer blended education (Amasha, and Al-Shaya, 2009).
A research case study conducted by Porcaro and Al Musawi (2011), demonstrates that the
outcomes of applying Computer Supported Collaborative Learning environments include:
Enhanced course content knowledge;
Increased confidence in applying course knowledge and skills;
Stronger collaboration skills (arguing ideas, making decisions, providing solutions);
Greater ability to create instead of simply consume knowledge;
Added benefits of leadership and presentation skills.