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Contextual language learning: Educational potential and use of social networking technology in higher education

This study investigates the potential and use of social networking technology, specifically Facebook, to support a community of practice in an undergraduate-level classroom setting. Facebook is used as a tool with which to provide supplementary language learning materials to develop learners’ English writing skills. We adopted the technology acceptance model to examine students’ initial expectations of, perceptions of, and attitudes toward the use of Facebook as a learning platform for the sharing of knowledge and class experiences. Data were collected both qualitatively and qualitatively from 18 students who enrolled in a semester-long English writing course at a public university in Taiwan. Findings indicate that Facebook provides an easy-to-use interface for learners to leverage the social networking skills that are part and parcel of their everyday world and to generate shared knowledge among each other within a small group environment. Given the fact that college-age students are already proficient with Facebook and other social media, language teachers should take advantage of that situation by incorporating Facebook into classrooms. It is also suggested that language teachers consider their expected learning objectives and outcomes while utilizing Facebook for its educational purposes and meaningfulness.


Chung-Kai Huang    
Department of International Business
National Taipei University of Business

Chung-Kai Huang is an assistant professor in the Department of International Business at National Taipei University of Business, Taiwan. His research includes digital media design, usability testing and human resource development.

Chun-Yu Lin    
Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership
Univisety of Illinois of Urbana-Champaign
United States

Chun-Yu Lin earned his Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests focus on instructional design and technology, professional competencies, organizational socialization, organization development and organizational behavior.

Daniel Steve Villarreal    
Center for General Education
National Defense Medical Center

Daniel Steve Villarreal is an assistant professor of English in the Center for General Education, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, and holds a Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education from The University of Texas at Austin.


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