Students learn better when they are involved in their learning process and teachers need to createa platform for their participation. Social media technologies offer learning platforms, which are user friendly and the ones students would feel comfortable to work on are social networking sites for sharing ideas with others and Blogs for uploading responses to tasks. In this chapter, the author would discuss the pilot study she conducted with engineering students to analyse the effectiveness of using Twitter, a social network site and Blog, for promoting language learning.
Teaching within or beyond a classroom helps teachers and students to form a network andexchange information. B.S.Abdur Rahman University, where the author is currently working, offersa supplemental blended learning program (Pennstate, 2005) and students receive inputs bothwithin the classroom and in the language lab. Students are exposed to business English for writingtheir communication skills lab exam and facing the corporate world. Additional input on corporatescenario is given through tasks. Teachers handle a rigid curriculum, which includes training studentsin language skills and conducting continuous assessments within a period of four months. Hence,exposure given to students to learn business scenario proves to be inadequate in this system. It isfelt that teachers have to integrate web tools for imparting additional training beyond the classroom.Wikipedia (2012) states that “Social media technologies take on many different forms includingmagazines, internet forums, weblogs, social blogs,microblogging, wikis, podcasts, photographsor pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking”. Students are familiar with social networks likeFacebook, Twitter, Orkut and MySpace. They use at least a few regularly for interacting with their friends. It is believed that these social media technologies could be exploited for training students inlanguage skills and at the same time create awareness of other Web 2.0 tools such Blog, YouTubeand Podcast through these sites among students. They would also learn to use the Web 2.0 tools
for learning purposes, thus paving the way for lifelong learning. The author identied Twitter, a
social media technology and the microblogging site and Web 2.0 tool, Blog for using them astools to conduct the pilot study. The advantages in using them are, as Pettenati (2006) states, thecharacteristics of social networks are ‘spontaneity, high level of trust and autonomous motivation’(p.4).
According to Siemens (2004),”Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds intoorganizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to providelearning to individual” (n.d). This is applicable to students’ acquisition of knowledge, which he gainsfrom various sources. Siemens theory of Connectivism states that “Learning is a network formationprocess of connecting specialized nodes or information sources” (n.d)Thus it is evident that studentsneed to form a social network, which in a way would make him learn from each other. It must bestated that learning becomes more authentic and interesting while networking with experts, with peersand additional sources of information given. Reynard (2008) Pettenati & Cigognini (n.d), support the
use of technologies to form a network. Thus, the use of social media technologies could be justied
with the application of theory of Connectivism.
Social Networking is the recent trend among youngsters and research studies too have been doneto train students in lifelong learning as well as encourage them to collaborate with others. Hoffman