The purpose of this report is to highlight the social software environments that support collaborative work for students. More importantly, to give you a brief idea about the benefits and drawbacks of the university to promote social environments such as Skype, Course Cracker or Facebook for academic group work as opposed to investing further in conventional learning platforms such as Learn.
Using databases and portals to gather vital information about social networks that provided enough information to evaluate the process of collaborative working through social networks.Introduction The Senior Management Group of the university has requested this report to see the benefits and drawbacks of social environments to be used for academic group work. The report examines the social software environments that support collaborative work for students because the university wants to decide to use the right choice for students to use collaborative work effectively via social networks. Using this research can benefit the university, as they may not invest further into the learning platform that is currently being used (Learn).In addition, this research can broaden student’s educational skills by using social environments in different platforms to enhance the ability to work away from university. Results will be evaluated and will be explained with clear understanding of the concept.
This report will give a brief idea about social networks with benefits and drawbacks as recommendations will be made regarding the issues that are found. Procedures Using Search engines, portals, databases and websites helped this research to gather vital data from various articles and enhanced the path of this report.Analysing articles cautiously to comprehend the idea of collaborative working was the first step to consider. Furthermore, building this knowledge lead to a finding of social environments that support collaborative work for instance, Skype, Facebook, and Course Cracker. Comparing these social networks expanded the findings of the advantages and disadvantages for social environments to be used as collaborative work. Issues were found on articles about social networks and how they affect students in various ways. Analysing these issues gave a positive and a negative view on social network, hence leading to a decision by the university.
Findings Collaborative working is the act of people working together towards common goals (Oxford dictionary, 2006). Web 2. 0 technologies are allowing social environments to improve and expand throughout the globe. According to Albert L.
Harris, Web 2. 0 technologies encompass a variety of different meanings that include an increased emphasis on user generated content, such as data and content sharing, collaborative effort, new ways of interacting with Web-based applications, and the use of the Web as a social platform for generating, repositioning and consuming content.Collaborative working can be very useful, especially when you are away. According to Jones, 2010, social environments were used to create a collaborative learning environment where on-campus and distance students were able to work together to produce assessable material. Many social software environments support collaborative work for students such as Facebook, Skype, and Course Cracker. Each website is unique and provides different ways of communication.
The significance of the results differed as each website contained a different set of benefits for its users.Facebook is a text based communication that allows people to interact by messages. Discussion groups can be created for collaborative work that allows group members to post images, links, Docs, videos and text about a relevant topic that is being studied. On the other hand, Skype is a software that allows face-to-face collaboration (video calls) and voice calls that allows a group to communicate all at once. Messaging and file sharing is also available.
In addition, structured face-to-face and online discussions with the group will provide valuable insights (Ela ; Cristina).Using face-to-face can help students to develop a friendly relationship online and can build up their confidence. Course Cracker is also another social learning environment that is a little different from Facebook and Skype. Course Cracker is a free online community for academic networking, discussion and media sharing. It allows students, educators and parents to use and benefit from multiple purposes.
Students can also discuss and share academic information with other students.Learn is Loughborough University’s Virtual learning environment that enables students to retrieve information about their studied topics and work collaboratively with others. It also allows distance learning support which means that students can use it at university or away. Students can benefit greatly from collaborative work, in terms of knowledge construction and development. However, there are many issues that may hinder the university to use social networks for academic group work. IT skills and online interaction skills are necessary to use these websites and some require a microphone or a webcam to communicate.
This could be an issue for some students, as they may not have a built in webcam or a microphone. Dyslexic students can be affected, as the website may not be appropriate for them. According to H.
Findlay, facebook diverts attention. This means that students may get distracted whilst doing group work. Moreover, many students are less enthusiastic about collaborative assessment, where it requires them to rely on fellow students for marks (J. Macdonald). This could cause a problem because most students would like to get high marks and they could be disappointed. A major concern was trust.
According to Christine et al, social computing raises important issues in relation to identity, trust, reputation and privacy problems. This can cause a huge problem such as cyber bullying, identity theft and many other risks. Wether social networks could be been used in academic work Social networks can be used in academic work because most networks allow collaboration. This helps students to share information regarding their group work for instance, Skype includes face-to-face video chat that allows a group of students to use and interact whilst gathering information.Facebook allows students to open discussion groups where all students get to interact. Recently Facebook created Groups to be used by people. This was a major step taken that allowed people to use for communication and discussion based tasks. Comparing these social networks to Learn would be useful because students that use Learn find it hard to interact with other students.
Learn only allows discussion groups which is only text based. However, if students used facebook instead, they would have better interactions as they would be able to see if any group members are online or offline.How social networks have been used in academic work Many students use discussion groups, voice calling or face-to-face to talk and pass on information. Using social networks to do academic work has increased and has provided students to enhance work by searching more effectively. Many students use Facebook or Skype to share information they have found. Students review each other’s work and comment on it. Setting tasks for each group member is the main rule.
After each task is completed, students then share it and put their work together to submit it. ConclusionsThis study sets out wether social networks are a convenient way of collaborative working and also explains why Learn should, or should not be further invested. Acknowledging all the facts about the issues that were present makes Learn a better platform because it is a very serious platform that does not include any personal information, unless it is intended for professors. This protects its users from Identity theft and many other issues. On the other hand, the university can save money and time if they stop investing into Learn because social networks are for free and can be used by anyone and anywhere.The main benefit of social networks is that they are assessable from anywhere including handheld gadgets that support web browsing or apps.
Communication is much more better and easier. However, if they do invest into Learn, they can achieve better results, as the website is more academic based rather than social based. Using Learn collaboratively via discussion groups can be restricted to some contents, which makes it a bad idea for students to use. This is why many people suggest social website like facebook or programs like Skype to be used instead of Learn.
Depending on all the information found, as a researcher. Using social website only for group work would be ideal because it will help students to know each other more and will increase their confidence. I would suggest that Learn should only be used for resources and not for group work. Recommendations To avoid safety, security and privacy concerns, lecturers must acknowledge the fact that students need new approaches towards collaborative working. According to the Christine et al, “Lecturers must provide supportive measures and networks for learning new skills and approaches”.
This means that group work must be planned by lecturers so that the majority of the issues are solved. According to the findings of this report, social networks must make changes to apply to university standards. Social networks must acknowledge the idea that students will use their websites, which means they must do something special for students only. This includes making changes to some extent in which students can use.
An example would be Facebook as they have created groups for this purpose only.