The purpose of this paper is to investigate the uses and gratifications (U&G) theory for evaluating social media usage in higher education. The paper reports on a social media awareness campaign which was designed and implemented in a higher education context as extra-curricular content.
A case study research approach was used and the theoretical model was adopted in a South African higher education institution where a social media campaign was conducted to improve environmental awareness. The activities of the environmental awareness campaign were conducted using popular social media such as Facebook and YouTube. The U&G theory was used to evaluate social media usage before and after the campaign. Three gratifications (or factors) of the U&G were used, namely coordination, immediate access and social presence.
The findings revealed an increase in environmental knowledge during the campaign and a positive correlation was found between activity on the social media campaign and environmental knowledge. However, the ratings for the U&G gratifications were lower in the post-test evaluation than in the pre-test evaluation for all three factors. This low rating could indicate that the use of social media for these gratifications and the acceptance of social media used for extra-curricular educational purposes are low. Through qualitative feedback three other factors that influenced the usage and acceptance of the campaign social media were identified, namely: time, attitude and a fast internet connection.
One limitation of the study was the relatively small sample size of 72 students in one higher education institution.
The findings of the study still provide deeper insight into students’ usage of social media for extra-curricular education and the theoretical model can be used in other studies on social media usage.
Whilst several studies have investigated social media use for learning, there is limited research which explores the usage and acceptance of social media for extra-curricular knowledge.
Scholtz, B., Calitz, A.P. and Tlebere, T. (2017), "Evaluating students’ social media use for extra-curricular education", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 5-23. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-05-2015-0039Download as .RIS
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