E-Learners’ Perception Regarding Academic Usability of Social Networking Sites
Social Networking Sites (SNSs) are gaining popularity nowadays among the youth and their usage can also be extended to other walks of life. A few of these social networking sites are targeted at specific interest groups while others are general in nature. But overall, they serve as important tools for information sharing and resource management. So, their importance cannot be denied in the context of knowledge sharing at different education levels as well. This new phenomenon has prompted free-of-charge tools for facilitation in every walk of life, for every age group all around the world. With such widespread adoption, social networking sites are increasingly attracting the attention of academic researchers. In the West, social networking sites are also being used by teachers and students as communication tools to extend classroom discussions. In this context, the present study is aimed at measuring the academic usability of social
networking sites for the e-learning mode within an indigenous culture. The focus of the study was to measure students’ perception regarding usability of these sites in the learning process of the students of the Virtual University of Pakistan. The main objectives of the present study were to find out the perceived difference of opinion among academic and non-academic users of social networking sites regarding; knowledge sharing, assessing the possible facilitation provided by social networking sites in the learning process, skill enhancement and the role of a teacher as a facilitator and mentor while using social networking sites. For the purpose of conducting the present study, an online survey was conducted with the VU students. A questionnaire containing close-ended questions on a five-point Likert Scale was deployed as a data collection tool. The Alpha coefficient was determined to indicate the internal consistency of the questionnaire. For data analysis purposes, descriptive statistics and independent sample t-test were applied. Study findings suggested that those students who were the members of knowledge sharing SNSs perceived it to be more academically useful in comparison to non-academic users. Further, they stressed on the official
use of these sites from the VU platform in order to make the learning process easy and more user friendly.