Utilizing the Internet and Social Media Tools to improve student learning anddevelopment.C. DumontCollege of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africacdumont@cct.edu.za 1. Introduction The College sector has been recognized as an important role-player to train and equip young people with the skills required by the modern South African economy. The National Vocational Certificate courses introduced in 2006/7 have been designed with outcomes that align with industry key performance areas. One major shortcoming of the implementation of the curriculum is that these courses are still largely theoretic in nature. And it has lead to an unfavorable impact on college graduates’ readiness for the place of work. The Business department at the city campus of the College of Cape Town has made steady inroads in aligning course outcomes with industry skills and exposing students to industry trends. In the Business Centers where skills are developed and practiced, students are able to utilize computers and the internet for course purposes. In the Marketing Communication classroom, I have introduced Social Media as an important subject to the teaching and learning of marketing. It took careful planning that involved research, identifying course outcomes, and integrating the trends in Social Media and marketing with it. 2. Case Study (Implementation) A case study approach was used to examine the effects of the internet and Social Media tools on student learning. Students were exposed to the use of computers and the internet in the Business Centre (Practical Work-based Room) in aid of completing their projects. Secondly, a projector and laptop with internet connection was used in the Marketing Communication classroom. The internet was utilized to show visuals and demonstrate how marketing is being done on Social Media networks like Facebook and Twitter. The population recruited for this case study was from the College of Cape Town, in the Central Business District of Cape Town. The people surveyed were first year marketing students from various townships on the Cape Flats. A total of 46 first year marketing students were surveyed by completing a questionnaire. Most of them had either none, or very little knowledge of what marketing is all about. Many of them had a cell phone and used it to either make calls or to send a sms (text messaging). Some of the students did also use Facebook and MIXT to keep in touch with their friends. They were curious to see how companies such as CellC and PicknPay use Facebook and Twitter to engage with their customers.
Through the use of the Internet, students were showed how marketing communication occur on Social Networks. The Facebook Page of PicknPay was viewed and students were showed what type of messages PicknPay is communicating with its fans (Followers/Customers/Potential Customers). The purpose of these messages were analyzed and linked to the subject, so that they could make the connection with the theory found in their textbooks. The challenge was that none of the Social Media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are referenced in student textbooks. The feedback from the companies’ fans were also analyzed so that students could see how followers or customers interpret and respond to the messages by a company. Many lessons were drawn from these exercises. The survey consisted of questions that enquired: Whether the individuals use the internet and Social Media tools in there course. How often they made use of the internet and Social Media tools. Whether Social Media improves understanding of the marketing course Why or how Social Media tools and the Internet improve understanding and learning about marketing. 3. Findings From the 46 students who were surveyed and that responded, a total of 42 said that they have learned about social media in the classroom. The rest either did not respond or have said that they did not learn about it. This could be attributed to reasons such as non- attendance or misunderstandings. The table below indicates the amount of students who were positively impacted by the use of the internet and social media in the classroom. Table 1: The number of students positively impacted QUESTIONS “YES” RESPONSE PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL SURVEYED Does Social Media help you 41 of 45 91% understand your studies better? Does the use of the Internet make 41 of 46 89% learning more interesting?The above table is an indication of how students were impacted and the potential that theInternet and Social Media play in improving learning in the field of Marketing in the collegesector.When students/respondents were asked how the use of the Internet and Social Mediaimproved their learning, these responses were given.
Table 2: Summary of student responses How the use of the Internet and Social Media improves learning and understanding of the field of Marketing. Getting updates of developments in the field of Marketing Makes learning easier and gain understanding quicker. The Internet stimulates their brain cells. Allows for exploration and thus providing more information. Makes the study of marketing fun, cool and interesting. Allows students to see what is happening in the world of marketing and gives new methods of marketing. Learning of new things and new skills. It is better and faster than the use of books. Helping to remember what was learned in class Helping them to see the future better in terms of a career in marketing. Helping them look differently at the world and life. Learning how to promote a product on Facebook. Learn how fast communication can be on the internet. Help students see things from a business’s point of view. Learnt that there are many tools to communicate (business and private) 4. Discussion The greater amount of students has indicated that the use of the internet has made learning more interesting. Further, they also mentioned that learning about Social Media has brought about a better understanding of the marketing field. From the findings, it can be understood that students have learned and developed through the use of Social Media tools to learn about marketing related concepts and processes. References were made to how the studying of marketing were made fun and cool, and that understanding was improved. 5. Conclusions and Recommendations The positive feedback from students indicate the “Learning/facilitating role” the Internet, and more specifically the use of Social Media tools can play in the teaching of marketing in the college sector. It also presents an opportunity to improve the learning environment and introduce a “fun factor” to learning. Moreover, it presents an opportunity for colleges to equip marketing students with skills in Internet and Communications Technology.
A short-coming of the action research conducted is that few students were taught how touse these Social Media tools in a social and marketing context. And because the curriculumand year plans do not make provision for the teaching of these skills, a creative approach isneeded to integrate these technologies into more lessons. In doing that, the restrictions oninternet connection and limited computers will also have to be considered.