Kilis, Selcan; Rapp, Christian; Gülbahar, Yasemin (2014). Perception of Instructors about Social Media Usage in Higher Education: The Cases of Turkey and Germany. Peer reviewed paper (accepted). 8th International Computer & Instructional Technologies Symposium, Edirne, Turkey. 18-20. September 2014.
Extended Abstract: Social media is becoming more prevalent in educational environments. It is used for enhancing communication, making students more interested and active, enhancing students’ motivation, sharing course materials, etc. in educational settings. Therefore, to benefit social media more in educational settings, their existing potential for educational purposes should be explored in depth. In this context, the characteristic features of social media tools should be defined clearly. Moreover, the attitude of students and educators toward social media is another important issue. For this purpose, attitudes of instructors toward social media at higher education institutions was tried to be investigated finding out cultural differences among two countries in this study. This study included a part of a joint research project named Social Media as Catalyzer for Cross National Learning (SoMeCat) within the scope of EU FP7 Era.Net Russia and supported by Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes of educators toward social media at higher education institutions in Turkey and Germany and also compare and explore the potential cultural differences between two countries. This study was designed based on qualitative research methodologies. In this case study, participants were chosen based on purposive sampling, regarding the issues of accessibility and frequent use of social media in educational environments. Two universities from each country, in total 4 universities participated into the data collection. The participatory universities were Middle East Technical University (METU-ODTU) and Ankara University (AU) from Turkey; Lake Kontanz University (LKU-KGU) and Berlin Technical University (BTU) from Germany. The participants were 12 instructors from Turkey and 10 from Germany, in total 22 voluntary instructors. They were interviewed via face-to-face or online via Skype/Hangout. During the interview, instructors were asked 11 open-ended questions developed by the researchers. Interviews were recorded after receiving the participants’ permissions. Duration of interviews changed between 20-60 minutes. The collected data were analyzed based on content analysis and emerging themes and codes were generated inductively. At the end, demographic information of the instructors, recent technologies, use of social media in daily life and educational settings, their attitudes toward social media, cultural differences and strategies to cope with the innovation were revealed. The findings indicated that all instructors were aware of existed potential benefits of social media in learning environments. All participants stated that they use social media frequently for different purposes. Their attitudes toward social media varied based on culture and country. While Turkish instructors accepted social media as an information and social sharing platform, Germans thought that social media is mainly discussion and communication oriented and provides sharing of any material. All of them were found to be positive regarding with integration of social media in education. They stated that they use social media to communicate with their students, enhance interaction in the classroom and make the students more active. On the contrary, some instructors declared they have some difficulties during integrate social media into the education due to the lack of infrastructure and educational guides. However, the instructors working at technical universities were found to be more optimistic because of having up-to-date technologies and tools in technical universities and more facilities. In general, Turkish instructors think students have much more time and thus more abstainer than Germans. The results indicated that at higher education institutions, instructors are not aware of potential benefits of social media adequately for educational purposes. Therefore, their awareness should be raised. For this purpose, teacher training services about technical and pedagogical use of social media in educational environments can be helpful. Furthermore, future studies should focus on raising instructors’ awareness and enhancing best-use cases and samples should also contribute to benefit from social media in educational environments more.
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