First Steps in Bridging the Gap between the Virtual Learning Environment and Social Media: Students Attitudes

Guy Saward, Lynette Pye, Alan McCall

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The eSCISM project aims to bridge the divide between a student’s academic community of practice and their existing social networks.
While students are using social media amongst themselves, a divide remains
between tutors’ online presence and student presence (whether social or cognitive, informally or more formally), in part fuelled by concerns over privacy and in part by the lack of staff digital literacy. The main activities of our project have been three fold: to survey students’ relative usage of social media and
their VLE; to expose activities within a Virtual Learning Environment to make them visible in social media in a way that addresses privacy issues; and to investigate student attitudes to bringing academic activities into their online social and academic lives.
Our work has focussed on 6 student cohorts across two Schools within a STEM faculty and has involved over 150 students at levels 4, 5, 6 and 7. Unsurprisingly, results highlight the dominance of Facebook, accessed by
students via mobile devices, i.e. SmartPhones, although there are unexpected variations between cohorts. More surprisingly, student attitudes to integrating the social and academic spheres shows less evidence of a digital community divide than expected. While some students clearly want to keep these two
separate, they are a minority.
Our successful integration of a VLE with social media (via a number of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts) raises a number of issues including: the need to increase staff social media literacy; the technical challenges of
implementing and maintaining the bridges between VLEs and social media; and
institutional investment in and attitudes towards opening up the VLE. This work is
increasingly vital in an era in which basic communication tools are diverging with staff locked into using email while students rely on more social media
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Event7th international Blended Learning Conference - University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jun 201214 Jun 2012


Conference7th international Blended Learning Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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