Social Media (Networking) Activity and Enhancing Learning (Part 2)

Social Media Wordle (c) Dr. John Weidert | learning education college students networking blogs blogging wiki video interactivity YouTube Twitter LinkedIn Facebook Instagram Tubulr

The Components of Learning

Having defined and delimited social media activity, it is also important to adopt a definition and delimitation of learning. Such a discussion is particularly important because social media activity enables two forms of cognition: What Coon (2007) referred to as traditional cognition and what Adams and Aizama (2010) described as extended cognition. Both of these forms of learning require strict definitions.

According to Coon & Mitterer (2008), cognition is “the process of thinking or mentally processing information (images, concepts, words, rules, and symbols)” (p. 285). Note that this definition focuses on the internal aspects of cognition, as thinking is something that takes place inside the human brain. However, according to Adams and Aizama (2010), extended cognition is also a legitimate form of learning. Extended cognition, according to Adams and Aizama, is the kind of learning that takes place based on an “increasing reliance on tools” (p. 25). Indeed, the history of human learning is the transference of once purely-internal cognitive processes to the external environment. Verbal rhetoric gave way to writing. Internal calculation gave way to calculators and computers. In Coon’s version of the theory of cognition, what we do when we use calculators is not cognition or learning per se; learning takes place only insofar as what we do on the calculator refines our internal mental understanding of, and ability to do, computation.

The theory of extended cognition as championed by Adams and Aizama (2010) is more popular among cognitive scientists, and it is also the theory adopted for this study. This theory has two important implications for the study of social media activity in college-level learning environments. First, the theory of extended cognition would support the premise that learning to use social media technology is an important kind of learning in itself. To be sure, college-educators will want to use social networking technology to teach some form of traditional subject matter to students. However, the use of social media activity is now a form of learning in itself, much as learning to use a calculator has become just as important as learning the theory of calculations. Education in the modern era is distinguished by a combination of tools and media (calculators, computers, social networking, etc.) on the one hand and internal cognition on the other. The theory of extended cognition informs educators to the value of social media activity as a required component of modern environments of learning.

The second advantage of the theory of extended cognition is that it provides a mental map for understanding how using a technology or a medium can translate into internal cognitive benefits. The traditional theory of cognition is insufficiently attentive to this aspect of learning. The theory of extended cognition accounts for the transfer of what we do ‘out there’—in the world of computers, calculators, and social media activity—to what goes on ‘in there,’ that is, in the minds of our students.  Adams and Aizama (2010) express this concept more directly: “A human with a pencil and paper has greater reasoning abilities and greater mathematical abilities than a human left to her own brainy devices” (p. 25).

 

References

Adams, F. & Aizawa, K. (2010). The bounds of cognition. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Arguel, A. & Jamet, E. (2009). Using video and static pictures to improve learning of procedural contents. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 354-359.

Bates, T. (2005). Charting the evolution of lifelong learning and distance higher education: the role of research. In C. McIntosh & Z. Varoglu (Eds.), Perspectives on Distance Education: Lifelong Learning and Distance Higher Education (pp. 133-152). Paris, France: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Publications.

Baumeister, R.F. & Bushman, B.J. (2007). Social psychology and human nature. New York: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Bender, T. (2003). Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning: Theory, practice and assessment. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publications.

Bernstein, D.A., Penner, L.A., & Clarke-Stewart, A. (2007). Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Boaler, J. and Staples, M. (2008). Creating mathematical futures through an equitable teaching approach: The case of Railside school. Teachers College Record, 110(3): 608-645.

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2008). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210-230.

Clarke, J., Dede, C., Dieterle, E. (in press). Emerging Technologies for Collaborative, Mediated, Immersive Learning. In International Handbook of Information Technology in Education. Springer Publications. Retrieved, March 19, 2011, from: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs /icb.topic443490.files/dede_handbook_v1.2.pdf.

Coon, D. & Mitterer, J. (2008). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to the mind and behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Davies, J. and Graff, M. (2005), Performance in e-learning: Online participation and student grades. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36: 657–663.

Gourova, E., Hermann, C., Leijten, J. & Clemens, B. (2001). The digital divide: A research perspective. A report to the G8 Opportunities Taskforce, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, EUR 19913 EN.

Haythornthwaite, C. (2002). Building social networks via computer networks: Creating and sustaining distributed learning communities. In A. Renniger & W. Shumar (Eds.). Building virtual communities: Learning and change in cyberspace. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hiltz, S. R. & Goldman, R. (2055). Learning together online: Research on asynchronous learning networks. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Inoue, Y. & Bell, S. (2006). Teaching with educational technology in the 21st century. San Francisco, CA: Idea Group.

Kalyuga, S. (2008). Relative effectiveness of animated versus static diagrams: An effect of learner prior knowledge. Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 852-861.

Kanpol, B. (1999). Critical pedagogy: An introduction. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.

Katz, R. (2003). Balancing technology and tradition: The example of course management systems. Educause Reviews, (July/August), 48-59).

Koutropoulos, A. (2010) Creating networking communities beyond the classroom. Journal of the Sociology of Self Knowledge, 8(1): 71-78.

Lenhart, A., Purcell, K. Smith, A., & Zichuhr, K. (2010). Social media & mobile internet use among teens and young adults. Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C.

Lin, H. & Dwyer, F.M. (2010). The effect of static and animated visualization: A perspective of instructional effectiveness and efficiency. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58, 155-174.

Livitch, S. & Milheim, W. (2001). Transitioning instructor skills to the virtual classroom. Educational Technology, 42(2): 42-46.

Mazzolini, M. & Maddison, S. (2007). When to jump in: The role of the instructor in online discussion forums. Computers & Education, 49(2): 193-213.

Nohria, N. & Eccles, R. G. (Eds.) (1992). Networks and organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Palloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom—the realities of online teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Palloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Perry, D., Taylor, M., & Doerfel, M. (2003). Internet-based communication in crisis management. Management Communication Quarterly 17(2): 206-232

Plass, J.L., Moreno, R., & Brunken, R. (2010). Cognitive load theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Prensky, M. (2006). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4): 8-13.

Rudestam, K.E. & Schoenholtz-Read, J. (2009). Handbook of online learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rutledge, P.A. (2008). The truth about profiting from social networking. London, England: FT Press.

Salmon, G. (2004). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online. 2nd ed. London: Taylor and Francis e-Library.

Shank, P. & Sitze, A. (2004). Making sense of online learning. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Sporer, N., Brunstein, J.C., & Kieschke, U. (2009). Improving students’ reading comprehension skills: Effects of strategy instruction and reciprocal teaching. Learning and Instruction, 19(3): 272-286.

Tilly, C. (1984). Big structures, large processes, huge comparisons. New York: Russell Sage.

Trend, D. (2001). Welcome to cyberschool. Lenham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Wellman, B. (1988). The community question re-evaluated. In M. P. Smith (Ed.), Power, community and the city, (pp. 81-107), New Bruswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

 


Download the entire 4-part series.

About the Author:

Dr. John Weidert is an independent educator, communicator, and practitioner of educational and organizational leadership, communication, and media studies.