Role of social software tools in education: A literature review

Minocha, Shailey (2009). Role of social software tools in education: A literature review. Education and Training, 51(5/6) pp. 353–369.



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of literature on the role of Web 2.0 or social software tools in education.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper is a critical and comprehensive review of a range of literature sources (until January 2009) addressing the various issues related to the educator's perspective of pedagogical effectiveness of social software tools.

Findings – The paper provides insights about the: educational goals of using social software tools; benefits to the students, educators and institutions; challenges that may influence a social software initiative; and issues that need to be considered in a social software initiative.

Research limitations/implications – It is hoped that the analysis, as captured in this paper, will highlight the different pedagogical roles of social software: communication, nurturing creativity and innovation, and collaborative learning. The paper will be of interest to researchers in the areas of social software and technology-enabled learning environments, in general. Further, this paper demonstrates how the analysis of academic literature sources has been combined with commentaries and opinions on the web to develop this literature review.

Practical implications – The review has been written from an educator's perspective: the questions and challenges that an educator encounters when considering the use of social software tools for learning and teaching. The analysis of the literature review in this paper is presented as answers to questions, which educators may have about social software initiatives. The findings in this paper may influence learning and teaching strategies in higher and further education – specifically institutions that are considering the use of social software.

Originality/value – The paper presents theoretical underpinnings related to pedagogical role of social software tools. In this paper, the practical issues and challenges for educators and policy makers who are considering the adoption of social software tools in learning and teaching are analysed. The paper consolidates a variety of literature sources from academic publications, recent reports on social software (2007-2009), and commentaries and views on social software within the social media itself (blogs, wikis, YouTube).

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