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Role of the educator in social software initiatives in further and higher education: A conceptualisation and research agenda

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Abstract

Higher and further education institutions are increasingly using social software tools to support teaching and learning. A growing body of research investigates the diversity of tools and their range of contributions. However, little research has focused on investigating the role of the educator in the context of a social software initiative, even though the educator is critical for the introduction and successful use of social software in a course environment. Hence, we argue that research on social software should place greater emphasis on the educators, as their roles and activities (such as selecting the tools, developing the tasks and facilitating the students' interactions with these tools) are instrumental in a social software initiative. To address this gap, we have developed a research agenda on the role of the educator in a social software initiative. Drawing on role theory, both as the basis for a systematic conceptualization of the educator role and as a guiding framework, we have developed a series of concrete research questions that address core issues associated with the educator roles in a social software context. We have provided recommendations for further investigations. By developing a research agenda, we hope to stimulate research that creates a better understanding of the educator's situation and develops guidelines to help educators carry out their social software initiatives. Considering the significant role an educator plays in the initiation and conduct of a social software initiative, our research agenda ultimately seeks to contribute to the adoption and efficient use of social software in education.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Open University, UK 2: Business School of the University of Buckingham, UK 3: Department of Information Systems at City University of Hong Kong

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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