Can Social Media Give Online Education A Brighter Future?

ChrisSong    March 19, 2016

Social media by its nature is about collaborating, networking, sharing and generating knowledge and content. It has transformed the way we interact with one another. According to a report by the Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson Learning Solutions, faculty members’ use of social media has been steadily increasing since the survey was first conducted in 2010. (Wired for teaching) Online learning has been popular for quite a long time, but the inclusion of social media is something that’s relatively new. Could social media play a more central role in education especially in online education in the future?

Early data from some of the most successful MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) indicate that student participation is greatly increased when social media platforms are integrated with the learning programme, and at the same time, student drop-out rate are reduced. (How social media is changing education)

Massive open online course have struggled to achieve high levels of student engagement. A study by researchers in Australia offers new insights into the ways social media can be most effective as a secondary platform for communication and collaboration in massive open online courses. It surveyed over 150 participants on their opinions of using social media as part of a 2014 MOOC for educators on designing their own online and blended teaching materials.

The MOOC, called “Carpe Diem” (CD), had just over 1,000 participants and included the use of hosting platform CourseSites’LMS, as well as Twitter and Facebook for online communication and collaboration. The Facebook group moderators guided participants to ask question about the CDMOOC, seek practical help, communicate and discuss issues around work task, and share links to online group work and resources. Twitter was used by both the CDMOOC team and participants to share practical information and resources, while also encouraging participants to share their thoughts. Both the CDMOOC Facebook group and the Twitter hashtag #CDMOOC were extensively advertised to participants through general announcements on the CDMOOC’s CourseSites page. (The space for social media in structured online learning) The research found that the half of respondents who used Facebook and Twitter throughout the MOOC enhanced their overall learning experience and led to increased networking and knowledge sharing with peers. There are also half of the students did not use these platform because unease at blurring social and professional identities.

The CDMOOC case shows that social media platforms can be an effective way for peer-to-peer interactions. Peer learning is a key to the value of student interaction, whether virtual or in-person. Students may be more willing to voice their opinion or disagreement with peers in an online discussion by social media rather than in a face-to-face setting.

Xiaoxiao, Founder and CEO of launched this online Mandarin learning platform last month. “Peer learning is an educational practice which has been approved to make the language learning more effective. On our platform, students are required to find a peer to practice or work together on an assignment. Social media can be used to group students together to do peer-learning. Coursera, a successful MOOC platform, uses peer assessments where students can evaluate and provide feedback on each other’s work.  This is a very good engagement for their study.”

Lessons for Others

Social media can be a powerful tool to deploy in MOOCs and other digital learning in the future. In MOOCs, where engagement and motivation tend to be low, social media may be beneficial in fostering online learning communities. (The space for social media in structured online learning) On social media, students can organize study groups which will encourage interaction and cooperation among classmates. Students can use social media platform to share ideas and insights and get academic support from their classmates. Students will be connected from all over the world by social media.

Organization: CDMOOC
Industry: Online Education
Name of Organization Contact: Maha Abed, eLearning designer

Authored by: Chris Song

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Salmon, G., Ross, B., Pechenkina, E., & Chase, A. M. (2015). The space for social media in structured online learning. Research in Learning Technology, 23.

Dhanu Mathew, (2016, Feb. 18), Social media and peer to peer teacher and learner, retrieved from

Michelle Strauss, (2013, September19), Social media in higher education: engage, share and learn, retrieved from

Daryl Sessoms, Future of education: social media and technology in the classroom, retrieved from

Megan Rogers, (2012, October 21), Wired for teaching, retrieved from

Don Power, (2012, January 10), How social media is changing education, retrieved from

Chris Buddle, (2014, September 16), The value of using media tools in teaching and learning, retrieved from

Communications Team (2015, May 9), How social media can help students study, retrieved from

Jordan Friedman, (2014, Nov. 5), Social media gains momentum in online education, retrieved from

Jeff Dunn, (2015, March 2), How students are using social media in education, retrieved from