Social Media in Adult Education: Insights Gained from Grundtvig Learning Partnership Project “Institutional Strategies Targeting the Uptake of Social Networking in Adult Education (ISTUS)”

Vilhelmina Vaičiūnienė, Viktorija Mažeikienė

Abstract


Purpose—the focus of this article is the role of social media in adult education and their impact on adult students in regards to their educational needs and specific personal situations within the frame of the learning partnership project. The Grundtvig learning partnership project “Institutional Strategies Targeting the Uptake of Social Networking in Adult Education (ISTUS) is an international partnership that includes partners from 7 EU countries. The aim of the research presented in this paper is to define cases of the uptake of technologies and applications by MRU students; thus, the objectives of the research are 1) to review literature pertaining to the field of social media in adult education context and 2) to analyse the respondents’ insights as regards learning/teaching practices, resources, and facilities that affect their learning in relation to social networking and media use (taking into consideration both personal and educational perspectives).
Design/methodology/approach—the research paper adopts qualitative research approach.
Findings—students perceive SM mainly as online communication means (usually informal communication is implied). SM is firstly associated by learners with pastime venue, not educational resource. Thus, methods of teaching/learning in SM and with the help of SM have to be developed and improved. They have to be considered in line with the necessity to develop critical and reflexive thinking skills and media and information literacy skills. The respondents have pointed out both positive and negative aspects of social media use for learning/teaching. Creation of an inner institutional SM type involving qualified people with expertise in SM use for education has been suggested.
Research limitations/implications—this article is focused only on the attitudes of MRU students though 105 interviews in total have been conducted within the framework of the project and not only students, but also teachers and administration have been interviewed.
Practical implications—From the practical perspective, this research is a starting point for further investigation encompassing findings of all partners of the project. In addition, it provides insights into potential venues for improvement of the teaching methodology in the context of networked studies.
Originality/Value—the research is particularly valuable since it is an important step to deeper insights into the existing situation, needs, tendencies, different attitudes and research issues important in the investigated context and developmental tendencies of education in contemporary society. The investigated theme adds to the existing studies of networked education that requires substantive and comprehensive investigations.
Research type: research paper.

Keywords


social media; adult education; students’ attitudes; the uptake of new technologies; ISTUS learning partnership

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"Social Technologies" ISSN online 2029-7564