A framework for social software adoption in higher education systems
Ohei, Kenneth Nwanua
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For decades, teaching and learning processes have centred on the traditional approach (Web 1.0) that promoted teacher-directed pedagogical practices. Currently, there is a realization that the traditional approach is not adequate to effectively address and improve all student learning outcomes. The subsequent incorporation of social software (SS) / semantic web (SW) and information and communication technology (ICT) web instructional technologies into higher educational system (HES) may serve as complementary technologies to support educational goals, offering students the opportunity to grasp content in a manner that fits a particular student. The integration of these web technologies in HES has been pursued at the forefront of the education sector in recent years. Notably, the decision to use these web technologies enabled by Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 in classrooms are affected by educators' perceived beliefs, patterns of technological acceptance as opposed to educational needs. SS is progressively being used worldwide at several universities to support teaching and learning processes. Ultimately, the emergence of SW marked a change and a turning point with regard to how the "digital native" could benefit from a range of educational software personal learning environments (PLEs) or personal virtual environments (VLEs). It allows digital natives possibilities to obtain meaningful information, collaboration and data filtering to suit their needs. This study provides a framework for SS adoption in HES to help facilitate business processes. The prime objective is to establish the probable features and capabilities of SS by exploring how the integration and adoption of SS/SW and ICT and web technologies into HES can improve learning enthusiasm, easy access, performance, quality and mode of delivery. SS can also improve students' learning interaction and collaboration and can build a social presence among students. A first step is to establish the extent of educators and students' ICT confidence and the challenges hindering SS/SW and ICT adoption in HES. The problem of training educators in the educational uses of web instructional technologies so that they can use it successfully in teaching and learning appears to be a key factor in almost every development plan for education and educational reform efforts. Presently, only a few educators use ICT tools in their teaching. In spite of the efforts of institutions, educators still lack the ICT skills required to successfully administer lectures with web technologies. Subsequently, a Mixed Method Research (MMR) was adopted through the development of a comprehensive framework. The findings suggest that SS/SW and ICT tools should be adopted in HES to serve as complementary tools that support education. In addition, the findings suggest that these tools are useful and will impact positively on education, although there are challenges that may prevent the adoption process. These challenges are linked to human factors (technophobia, cultural beliefs); security issues (privacy and IPRs); ethical and legal issues; ICT infrastructures (cost implication, risk, ICT teaching facilities); and university policy frameworks. However, none of these challenges are insurmountable. Despite the challenges involved in the adoption of SS/SW and ICT technologies, Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies offer HES new approaches of teaching and learning, which is crucial if institutions want to meet the essential needs of the citizens of information-age societies.