Social Media as a Catalyst for Distant Collaborative Learning: Trends and Concerns for Small Island States
Information technology has deeply modified the way people access and produce educational contents. Social media, more particularly, have enabled new possibilities by making it easy to create and share text, image, and video, possibly from a mobile equipment such as a Smartphone. Younger generation is especially fond of these new services. This paper thus aims at proposing a new approach to take advantage of this worldwide phenomenon for educational purpose. The idea is to rely on Social Media to support distant collaborative learning. After browsing a panorama of social media and e-Learning concepts, to explicit their respective mechanisms, a case study based on two islands of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and Reunion Islands, is presented. This research also includes a data collection process to assess the readiness of these two islands to set up of an international collaborative e-Learning platform relying on social media. It can be said for sure that though these islands are geographically distant, they are ready to embark on distant collaborative initiatives that can be helpful in a number of areas and disciplines. Respondents have stressed on the fact that Social Media can enhance collaborative work, can facilitate collective decision-making, can allow expressing the learner’s expression or state of mind, and can allow further enrolment of international students, just to name a few advantages. Social media thereby bridges the geographical distance between these two islands and acts as a catalyst for remote collaborative learning.