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Is social software really a “killer app” in the education of net generation students? Findings from a case study

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Article publication date: 20 September 2011




Social software is increasingly viewed as the new “killer application” in higher education – a potential answer to needs ranging from active learning and student engagement, to faculty empowerment. The purpose of this study is to explore this potential in the context of participating net generation students in a science and technology oriented, laptop‐based university located in Southern Ontario. The study is interested in the efficacy and pedagogical impact of social software (SSW) technologies in the students' learning experience.


The research model used an exploratory, descriptive, quantitative case study. The focus of the study was on the impacts of SSW on students' information literacy skills. A quasi‐experimental model was used to compare the effects of SSW use in information literacy instruction with those of traditional educational technologies such as learning management systems (LMS).


A total of 80 students participated. Twenty‐four students in the treatment group used SSW during the instruction phase, while in the control group, 56 used the LMS. The pre‐test showed a relatively moderate use of SSW technologies among the participants, with the exception of social networking technologies. At the completion of the study, students showed moderate willingness to employ SSW to enhance their learning. Barriers to the adoption of these technologies were highlighted. The study findings could not demonstrate that the use of SSW, compared with more established technologies such as the LMS would lead to different information literacy scores.


This is a summary of my original PhD research completed in 2009. A shorter poster version was presented at the 2011 IATUL Conference in June 2011 at Warsaw, Poland.



Feuer, G. (2011), "Is social software really a “killer app” in the education of net generation students? Findings from a case study", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 28 No. 7, pp. 14-17.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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