Williams, Mia Kim

Committee Member

Ursyn, Anna

Committee Member

Peterson, Lori

Committee Member

Larkins, Randy


Educational Technology


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



188 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This phenomenological, qualitative research investigated the perceptions of university students in a College of Education about the educational use of social media by examining the experiences of seven graduate students via an analysis of interview transcripts, informal observations, and applicable artifacts. This study was guided by three research questions: Q1 How do university students describe their experiences of using social media for their own learning? Q2 What do university students perceive as advantages or disadvantages in the use of social media for their own learning? Q3 What suggestions do university students make for increasing the use of social media for their own learning? Results of this study could inform educators about how students use social media in formal and informal learning situations. Participants were seven graduate students at a midsize university in the Midwestern United States. A thematic analysis indicated three main response categories and seven main themes that related directly to the research questions. The three main categories that emerged included Experience, Advantages /Disadvantages, and Suggestions. Seven major themes and 13 subthemes emerged from participants' interpretations of their experiences with the use of social media for learning: Source of Learning, Motivation and Engagement, Convenience, Collaboration and Connection, Overwhelming, Educators’ Social Media Integration, and Student Management of Social Media. The results of this study indicated social media platforms were both educationally meaningful and popular among students in higher education contexts. The findings showed the use of social media platforms could be highly appropriate for teaching and learning but it was very important that educators were trained and skilled in their use by setting specific boundaries around the use of social media for a given class. Furthermore, the findings aligned with many ideas presented in the research literature. The results also supported the new idea that although students believed social media could enhance learning and they perceived it as a powerful tool, the lack of perception of social media as a learning tool could hinder learning as well. Additionally, using and learning the rules of digital citizenship (both educators and students) was important to using social media effectively for learning. Thus, the overall findings of the study strongly indicated educators must teach students the rules of good digital citizenship and students must follow good digital citizenship practices to use social media for learning successfully. For students, social media could sometimes be overwhelming so self-management skills were critical to maintaining focus and quality while using social media platforms in an educational setting.

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