Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy [to the] School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.
In today’s technologically advanced world, many organisations and institutions have shifted to using different online platforms including social networking sites (SNSs) for the dissemination of information, collaborative work and instant communications. In the academic arena, the universities and academic institutions have already introduced the learning management systems (LMSs) for the facilitation of teaching and learning activities. However, these tools are not fully implemented for teaching and learning purposes in higher educational sector in Saudi Arabia. Given the rapid developments and advances being made in ICT technologies and web services, the level of communication, interactivity, collaboration and the content resources is still lower than expected in existing learning management systems (LMSs) used at universities. For example, while a lecturer has full control over the learning activities and resources and has access to more functional tools, the learners’ role is to some extent restricted and passive in that they have no control over their learning and they are not participating in creating the learning materials and activities. To this end, we develop an appropriate comprehensive and integral framework for the interactive web tools of SNSs in teaching and learning computer applications and skills in contemporary higher education environment. Our exploratory study is conducted in two stages - pre-and post-tests - to measure the changes in four variables developed for our proposed framework called Social Learning Hub (SLH): learning motivation, academic communication, collaborative learning, and interactive learning abbreviated in (MC2 I). Our suggested framework endeavors to examine the influence that these web-based services of SNSs have on enhancing learning and teaching activities. The experimental data are presented to test and validate the applicability of our SLH framework. The findings reveal there are positive applications of SNS tools in teaching and learning computer applications and skills. Gender plays an important factor in our case (Saudi Arabia) as noted from the female 12 scores, and this feature requires special considerations for future applications in such a unique education system. Both learners and instructors need to be prepared for this transitional stage in the learning environment using SNS tools.
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