Doctoral defence: Wilson Ofotsu Otchie “Social media in education: contextualizing teaching with social media in high school”

On 13 May at 15:00 Wilson Ofotsu Otchie will defend his doctoral thesis “Social media in education: contextualizing teaching with social media in high school”.

Professor Margus Pedaste, University of Tartu

Associate Professor Emanuele Bardone, University of Tartu

Professor Heidrun Allert, Kiel University (Germany)

Social media (SM) has become a powerful tool for online networking, communication, socializing, and information dissemination. These affordances (including ease of use) give SM usage leverage in different contexts, thus attracting growing interest in diverse disciplines. While interest in the educational use of SM is growing, the outcomes and benefits are unclear across studies and do not reflect its acclaimed affordances. For example, SM use in the classroom is potentially student-centered and constructivist-driven; however, such potential has not yet clearly materialized in practice. On the one hand, this doctoral research seeks to help teachers understand and appreciate the need for regular relationships with SM tools to both gain control of its operations and perceive its pedagogical affordances. On the other hand, the research aims at enabling teachers to articulate the use of SM by contextualizing its affordances in their teaching activities. For teachers to effectively use technology, the present work states that it is important to move from operational use to contextual use, which means seeing teaching options through the lens of SM. We conducted interviews with high school teachers: firstly, to collect their thoughts, insights and problems regarding teaching with SM, and secondly, to let teachers demonstrate how they prepare and teach with SM. We found that pedagogical affordances are characterized by a degree of openness, which means that, unlike operational use, contextual use cannot be determined beforehand but emerges in a regular relationship between the teacher and SM. Consequently, it is imperative to innovatively combine operational skills with the experience that comes from such regular relationships. So, our introduction of the terms operational and contextual affordances is a step towards understanding the nuances in effectively using technology. Also, our proposed framework practically demonstrates how to operationalize these concepts.

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