June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.513.1 - 15.513.22
Enhancing Student Classroom Engagement Through Social Networking Technology
The terms Web 2.0 technologies and social networking technology (SNT) are an obvious part of our personal lives and are increasingly becoming a part of the higher education experience. However, can they be used in the higher education classroom to enhance student engagement? This paper reports on preliminary data from surveys of current engineering and technology students and faculty in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. In addition, it reviews current literature on social networking technology and educational best practices. Results of the surveys and review of literature indicate that while SNTs are prevalent and offer strong potential for connecting students to each other, their integration into higher education classroom settings is problematic.
Whether we call them Generation Y, Generation Next, or Millennials, the students in today’s engineering and technology classrooms bring a startlingly diverse range of learning, working, and communication styles and expectations with them to college. To say that many of them are “multi-taskers” is to underestimate their nominal modes of working and communicating. Many of these students have come of age in a world filled with constant, nearly instantaneous contact with friends and media. Via ubiquitous technologies ranging from SMS messaging on smart phones to Web 2.0 technologies like Twitter and Facebook, they are constantly connected, frequently holding many simultaneous, fragmented “conversations” while at the same time engaging in work and play.
This multi-threaded approach to life and work, however, has its downsides. Many faculty members view it as an inability to focus and achieve the depth of understanding needed for mastering complex fields like engineering, engineering technology, and science. Furthermore, such disjointed attention spans in students may also make it difficult for those same faculty members to fully engage the students in the classroom itself, leading to lackluster participation, discussion, and critical inquiry and a frustrating educational experience for both student and instructor.
However, it may also be possible to use social networking for positive academic purposes. For instance, drawing on students’ existing familiarity, comfort, and competency with social networking may encourage them to transfer their affinity for virtual interactions to the physical classroom, thereby mitigating the boundaries between the online world and the academic one.
This paper explores that potential. By drawing on student and faculty opinions of social networking and its possible use in academic settings, we investigate the willingness and capabilities of those groups to integrate it into their courses.
Harley, G., & Baldwin, D., & Worley, W., & Thurston, T., & Hundley, S. (2010, June), Enhancing Student Classroom Engagement Through Social Networking Technology Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16510
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