Advance or Drowned: International College Students’ Use
of Social Media in a Learning Environment
Jisi Chen and Xinlei Bai(Dr. Maxwell Hsu & Dr. Guoli Liang), Department of Business and Economics,
University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, 800 West Main Street, Whitewater, WI 53190-1790
Jisi Chen
The instant communication technology appears to become
the prominence in people’s lives, especially among the
younger generations. The possibilities of interpersonal online
communications are both exciting and perhaps overwhelming
to a certain extent.
Though social network website (SNS) and instant
communication technology (e.g., twitter) have become a
common topic of research in the area of computer- or mobilemediated communication, little is known in terms of the
benefits of SNS and instant communication tools in an
leaning environment. This study, therefore, attempts to fill the
gap by exploring the factors that are likely to motivate or
hinder the adoption of the newly emerged communication
technology among international students.
Xinlei Bai
a. Participants
All data were collected from 60 international students at UWW.
The average age of them is about 23-year-old.
61.5% is female, 38.5% is male. They are currently in different class
standings. Most of them are graduate students.
92.6% of them do not have a full- time paid job The involved countries
are China, Thailand, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Morocco, Ecuador,
Australia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Saudia Arabia, Jamaica, Colombia.
b. Social Media use frequency patterns
According to the survey, the most frequently used social medias are
Facebook and QQ( most Chinese students use).
 We collected 60 responses via an online survey with the help of
UW-W student organizations (e.g. UW-W Chinese Student
Association, International Student Association, and Japanese
Student Association).
 Also, we incorporated a combination of researchers’ reflective
journal based on their survey findings, and analyzed the data
that we get.
Social Media Defined
 Social media is designed for activities that focus on socializing
and networking online through words, pictures, blogs and videos
(Solis 2008).
 Social media are redefining how we relate to each other as
humans and how we relate to the organizations that serve us .
 Trough those social media, people establish associations,
friendships, and allegiances around content, objects, products,
services, and ideas .
 The most popular social networking sites like MySpace,
Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are continuously growing.
 Social media may bring benefits to individuals in both social
and academic settings.
 Good for community building, resource consolidation,
sharing ideas or personal journals.
c. International Students’ Perception of Social Media
Agree that social media is exciting, involving, useful and valuable.
However, the major disadvantage of the social media is time
 Disagree that social media is boring and worthless.
International Students’ Perception of Social Media
(Please rate your perception from "Strongly disagree“ as in
“0” to "Strongly agree“ as in “5”).
 Social media also promotes collaborative learning and team
work and encourages interaction and communication skills.
 Social media are good for sharing ideas, getting quick
response, increasing interaction, and developing language
skills for international students.
 International students use social media to connect with
friends, classmates, colleagues, and professors.
is worthless
 We conducted an online survey to capture international
students’ social media adoption (or lack of adoption) decision
and their social media usage behavior.
 Using social media is part of college students’ life styles.
 The use of social media combines the benefit of both blogs
and instant messaging.
is boring
f. E-Learning Environments
g. Social media serves as a learning tool
How international undergraduate/graduate students in the U.S.
take advantage of the social media to enhance their learning?
Which social media are used by international students if they
choose to be a social media adopter?
How often do international students use the social media for
different purposes, especially in learning?
What information they obtained from the social media?
To whom they stay in touch via social media?
What factors lead them to use social media?
There are still some inconvenience inherent with instant
messenger in intercultural learning.
 Digital-minded students need to control their online time
and activities.
Primary Question
Additional Questions
e. Intercultural learning
 Nowadays, more and more people focus on intercultural
 The most convenient way that they use is via instant
messenger interaction to help facilitate intercultural learning
in a foreign language (citation?).
is time consuming
is involving
 Education should recognize the importance of social media
and adapt it more broadly in the learning environment.
is fascinating
is exciting
 The students prefer to use synchronous communication to
contact with each other, they can get instant response and
feedback. However, asynchronous communication is a good
way to use for connecting with professors on education.
is useful
is valuable
means a lot to me
d. Students’ views on educational implementation of Social Media
85.6% of students think social media is important or very important in
their learning.
More than 60% students consider
social media :
How important is it to you to have the social
media in your learning experience?
1) Enable them to stay connected to
educators worldwide who share
thoughts, ideas, and resources.
2) Enable them to ask or answer a
Very unimportant
quick question without having to e-mail
a group or instant message an
individual .
 Other benefits: improve computer
and language skills.
 However, only 33% of students
Very important
have used the social media in their
class in the past two semesters.
 Negative sides can’t be ignored. Overly relying on social
media will lead to a contradictory effect. Some students spent
too much time on social media to chat with others or play
Chan, Kara, & Fang, Wei (2007). Use of the internet and traditional media among young people. Young
Consumers, 8, 244-256. DOI: 10.1108/17473610710838608
Bakker, Gijs de, Sloep, Peter & Jochems, Wim (2007). Students and instant messaging: a survey of
current use and demands for higher education. Research in Learning technology, 15, 143-153. DOI:
Subrahmanyam, Kaveri, Reich, Stephanie M., Waechter, Natalia, & Espinoza, Guadalupe (2008). Online
and offline social networks: Use of social networking sites by emerging adults. Journal of Applied
Developmental Psychology, 29, 420-433. DOI: 10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.003
Li, Jin & Erben, Tony (2007). Intercultural Learning Via Instant Messenger Interaction. Calico Journal,
24(2), 291-311. Retrieved from https://www.calico.org/html/article_646.pdf
Solis, B. (2008). "Introducing The Coversation Prism." Retrieved August 6, 2008, from
http://www.briansolis.com/2008/08/introducing-conversationprism. html.