IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR STUDENT PARTICIPATION IN EDUCATION IN TANZANIA
Abstract: The web 2.0 technology and its associated social networks have brought tremendous effects in each day life. The effect is now reaching the educational settings due to online increasing activities. Indeed, new ways of learning have started to attract the ongoing debate for inclusion web 2.0 technologies into pedagogy. The effects of Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Moodle, RSS feeds and other related social networking tools in the formal and informal education, is vividly seen. Educators all over the World are keen to implement them into educational practices. What benefits have so far been observed by both students and educators? This is an important question that needs to be answered thoroughly, in order to establish a new shift in educational and pedagogical thinking. Information sharing accompanied by openness and a great deal of voluntary collaboration, is what forces the exploration in this area of informatics. In Tanzania, the Ministry for Education and Vocational Training has developed a policy for Information and Communication Technology for Basic Education in July, 2007. This was done so as to integrate ICT in education after realizing its potentials in daily life. Through this policy and other initiatives supported by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), a birth of eSchools was realized for integrating ICT in Education. The aim of this study is investigating the importance of online social networking sites in education in Tanzania. Using a quantitative method, this study includes a total of 56 participants (key informants) as a sample. All participants are students at the University of Dar es Salaam pursuing various courses. The instrument for data collection was a questionnaire composed of 19 questions. The usable rate of returned responses was 61% of the anticipated responses. The responses were then collated for analysis by means of MS excel. The study was conducted in March and April, 2012 and revealed that, the online social networks is not fully utilized in Tanzania for educational purposes. Lack of wider access to technology is a big hindrance, although not a definite factor by itself. Another factor has been identified as lack of sensitization among students and educators. Furthermore, the report provides recommendations on how this technology can be fully exploited for the benefits of the students and community at large.
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