n Mousaion - Enhancing and enriching students' reading experience by using social media technologies




Traditionally, learners obtain information from newspapers, books, encyclopedias and magazines, i.e. printed media. This traditional mode of acquiring information should continue, but the learning experience can be greatly enhanced and enriched by using social media or Web 2.0 technologies. Examples of such technologies include collaborative projects (e.g., Wikis), blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft) and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life). The use of social media in enhancing and enriching reading could be guided by social interaction learning principles that encourage active learning through the interaction of learners with capable individuals, software and educational material over social networks.

There are concerns regarding the use of social media, such as addiction to online games, music and live chatting, as well as teacher-student online relationships. While social media technologies can improve a learner's educational experience substantially, the danger is that overindulgence by learners can lead to dependence, fixation or even addiction, to the point where the learner finds it difficult to function without these technologies. Furthermore, some of the experiences from social media may be of little educational value if the technology is used without a learning theory to guide it.
This article aims to contribute to the scholarly debate on how social media technologies can be used constructively to enhance and enrich the reading skills of the various learners with access to these technologies. Arguments for and against the use of social media technologies in schools will be discussed and critiqued. Furthermore, the authors suggest how teachers, parents and social network providers should be socially accountable for learners' technology use.


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