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Social Media Pedagogy: A Multiple Case Study Approach

By: Michael F. Nantais

Social media are often touted to have the potential to transform education. These media
enable students to connect with others from around the world, to work collaboratively,
and to share their learning with an authentic audience. The literature offers support, yet
raises questions about this promise. The intent of this research was to examine how and
why some classroom teachers make use of social media for teaching and to determine if,
and how, this changes their pedagogical practices.
A qualitative, interpretivist multiple case study approach was used to tell the stories of
nine teachers in a rural Canadian prairie school as they explored and implemented
various social media in their teaching practices. A hermeneutic and phenomenological
approach formed the theoretical framework guiding this study. The primary source of
data was a multi-part interview consisting of conversations held over the six-month
study. Participants reflected upon and shared their perspectives as they made use of social
media in their teaching practice. Other data sources included a variety of relevant
documents such as school plans and online interactions undertaken by the participants.
The analysis followed a constant comparative thematic analysis method, providing a rich
exploration of the phenomenon of social media pedagogy.
The teachers in this study generally found their use of social media to be a positive
experience; however, several challenges and areas of concern were identified. The
teachers reasons for using social media included communication, engagement and
motivation, exposure of student work to a broader audience, and collaborative activities.
Supports for implementing social media were identified and included good access to
working technology and professional learning. The teachers raised concerns such as
privacy, safety, and time constraints. Ethical and appropriate use of social media was
seen not only as a concern, but also as an opportunity to teach. Impacts on teaching
practice ranged from the addition of strategies to teaching repertoires, to change that
could be considered as transformative learning. One of the most significant results was
the apparent effect on the school environment. Trust and responsibility were extended to
students, and the response was increased communication and connection between
students and teachers.
Keywords: social media, educational technology, teaching, case study, social
constructivism, change, pedagogy, transformative learning, rural education, grades 7-12