- Background to the Study
Social media are fast becoming very popular means of both interpersonal and public communication in Nigeria and the world at large. Social media are modern interactive communication channels through which people connect to one another, share ideas, experiences, pictures, messages and information of common interest. What distinguishes the social media from the conventional means of communication is their interactive nature which allows the audience to participate in it from any part of the world they reside. McQuail (2010) differentiates the social media from the traditional mass media when he noted that “traditional mass communication was essentially one-directional, while the new forms of communication are essentially interactive.” This interactive aura of the new media confers an unprecedented popularity on them. The social media by their nature have the capabilities of educating, informing, entertaining and „inflaming‟ the audience. Above all, they possess a „contagious and outreaching influence‟ which the conventional media lack. This potential is most likely what Osahenye (2012) refers to as “unstoppable power of the social media.” As a novel phenomenon, it is necessary to examine how Nigerian students use the new means of communication. This is because it is observed that students’ contribution as youths can make or mar any nation.
Okolloh cited by Essoungou (2010), explains that, “the new communication technology is one of the few ways that young Africans can bypass the inefficiencies in the system that allow the status quo to hold on. It lowers the barriers to entry for everyone to get involved and be heard.” A study like this shall help to ascertain whether students‟ use of the social media could be regulated or not. This is obviously because the disposition of people of a given community could shape the media in existence there, just like a cerebral media scholar Anim (2007) aptly notes that “…societies greatly influence the operations and functions of the media that operate within those societies.” The manner in which the social media were used and the role they played in the recent uprising which rocked the Middle-East popularly referred to as „Arab Spring‟ could be deciphered as credence to the above academics‟ observation. Now just like radio or television stations, social media sites spread everywhere in Nigeria and are bound to be sprouting as technologies continue to improve; however, the problem lies in the point that the purposes which the users apply the new media for are still obscure. This is what Folorunso, Vincent, Adekoya and Adewale (2010), perceived when they argue generally that, “in Africa, social media networking site is becoming widely spread than it has ever been before and it tends to be majorly accepted by the youths. Yet the widespread adoption by users of these sites is not clear, as it appears that people‟s perception of this technology is diverse.”
Social media tools are rapidly changing the communications landscape. Their emergence has impacted significantly how students learn and the way instructors teach. In today higher education settings, instructors, students, and others collaborate on the tasks of knowledge construction.The influence of social media on learning and teaching environments is growing more each year.
Social media applications can reinforce class material and positively influence discussions, collaborative work, and authoring. Educators and researchers are constantly experimenting with social media technologies hoping to stimulate critical thinking skills, collaboration and knowledge construction. Social media technologies offer the capability to both receive and create content with the hope that a collective intelligence emerges. The goal is to improve students’ learning experiences to prepare them to enter a workforce that is not geographically constrained and expects them to have highly developed online collaboration skills. The pursuit of such benefits drives academics to incorporate new technological approaches in their teaching methodology.
Most learning is a social activity which occurs in interaction with others, so it is quite a logical step to integrate social media into learning experiences (Sie et al., 2012). The more social the medium is, the greater the impact communication partners have on each other’s behavior (Kaplan & Haenlein 2010). Social media encourage, support and enable people to easily and effectively share knowledge through different technologies.
Social media can be defined as “collaborative online applications and technologies which enable and encourage participation, conversation, openness, creation and socialization amongst a community of users”. Also, social networking refers to a process of relationship building among a group with a common interest. Social media emerged in Nigeria principally for the purpose of socializing (Bowley, 2007).
A wide variety of characteristics and capabilities have been defined for social media in the literature. However, for the purpose of this study, those features of social media have been considered relevant to knowledge sharing purposes. They have the capabilities of social media that encourage, support, and enable undergraduate students to share their knowledge easily and effectively through different mechanisms. These characteristics of social media can be categorized into four features: Social connections have become very important and have improved and enhance accessibility of information and sharing of knowledge tremendously among Nigerian Universities.
Social Media are media that allow users to meet online via the Internet, communicate in social forum like Facebook, Twitter, etc., and other chat sites, where users generally socialise by sharing news, photo or ideas and thoughts, or respond to issues and other contents with other people. Common examples of social media are the popular social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, Flicker, etc. Social Media is an interactive media format that allows users to interact with each other as well as send and receive content from and to each other generally by means of the Internet.
Social media are technologies that facilitate social interaction, make possible collaboration, and enable deliberation by stakeholders across boundaries, time and space. These technologies include: blogs, wikis, media (audio, photo, video, text) sharing tools, networking platforms (including Facebook), and virtual worlds (Bryer and Zavatarro, 2011). The rise of social media sites as another platform on the internet has gained popularity over the last decade. The sites have attracted millions of users worldwide (Boyd, & Ellison, 2007) due to this fact many people are changing the outlet where they search for news, information, business and entertainment. These social media sites let those who use them create personal profiles, while connecting with other users of the sites. Users can upload photographs and post what they are doing at any given time.
The social media by their nature have the capabilities of educating, informing, entertaining and inflaming the audience. Above all, they possess a contagious and outreaching influence which the conventional media lack. This potential is most likely what Osahenye (2012) refers to as “unstoppable power of the social media.Abubakar, (2011), posits that social media, which include blogs (political Blog), networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), video sharing (YouTube) audio sharing (Podcast), mobile sites (2go etc.), image or picture sharing (flicker), etc. have the capacity of boosting participation because of their open, conversational nature, connectedness and textual and audio-visual characteristic appeals.
In a study conducted on Social media usage among Youths in Nigeria,Ajewole,Olowu, and Fasola, (2012), concluded that majority of the respondents spend more time on social networking sites, whichaffects their productivity negatively. The findings of this study also indicate that youths in Nigeria are spending too much time on social media at the detriment of other necessary things such as their studies.
A study conducted in 2013 to find out students’ use of social media revealed that student view social media for the purposes of self-development, leisurely entertainment, to watch films, to expose themselves to phonography discuss serious national issues like politics, economy, and religious matters on the new media (Ezeah, Euphemia, Asogwa and Obiorah, 2013).
Nigeria, a country with population of 167 million people (census 2006), 115 million mobile telephone subscribers and million internet users, has been described as the biggest internet and mobile market (NCC 2013). Today in Nigeria there are over 1000 social media sites, which include social, educational, entertainment and gossip, etc. One common feature of most of these sites is that their names are usually associated with a tag name Naijaor Nigeria.
The mass appeal of social media on the internet could be a cause for concern, particularly considering the gradually increasing amount of time youths spend online. In Nigeria, undergraduates spend more time on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites through smartphones that are now in abundance among them and most of them cannot go for two-three hours without checking and updating their profiles on these social media even at the detriment of other activities such as educational and career pursuit. (Idankwo,2011). The numerous problems of social media usage have recently been the major focus of attention worldwide. Issues of fraud, identity thefts, pornography and countless other negative influences associated with social media in general have been a cause of concern for scholars and authorities worldwide. There are increasing concerns on the use of social media for Internet crimes ranging from hacking to recruitment for terrorism.
The convergence of information and communication technologies as typified by the Internet is increasingly having more influence on all aspects of the society as it has become an integral part of the daily lives of many people. It has had a transformative impact on the mode of information sharing and access globally. Information and knowledge disseminated through the slow process of oral communications or with paper materials can now be transferred rapidly from an individual to an infinite number of users through a number of media and formats. The Internet is the fastest growing communication technology and has emerged as a major source of information that connects people, data and other computers, reducing the world to the much talked-about global village. Amichai-Hamburger and Hayat (2010) described the Internet as the creation of a continuous stream of computers linked together to form one grid, which enables interaction among hundreds of millions of people browsing the net.
Whereas the television revolution reached 50 million viewers in 13 years, the same feat was attained in only four years by the Internet (Molosi, 2001). Aqil and Ahmad (2011) averred that the Internet places information on our finger tips and that it is everywhere, knocking at our door, making our life easy and smooth in enhancing self development and promoting learning among students.
The education sector was among those that first embraced the use of Internet, and it has continued to broaden the breadth and depth of opportunities within institutions of higher learning worldwide. The Internet serves as a useful tool in support of the various educational activities that ranged from research to teaching. The Internet technology and computers has made it possible for students to be active learners and allowed instructors to be facilitators. Jackson, et al. (2011) remarked that the Internet will level the educational playing field due to its availability to everyone, everywhere, and any time, irrespective of gender, race/ethnicity, income or other socio-demographic characteristics. Thus, the Internet is a vital tool that will propel University education to greater heights as the world move further into the knowledge-based economy.
Universities worldwide now invest a lot on internet access because it reduces the time between the production and utilization of knowledge; improves co-operation and exchange of ideas with fellow researchers in other institutions, regions or countries, furthers the sharing of information; and promotes multidisciplinary research. Today, survival in academics without the Internet is hardly imaginable. The Internet has found useful applications in online data repositories, library catalogues, journals, news services, student and financial administration systems, online supported or solely online conducted teaching, as well as in digital communication with fellow students and lecturers. Other contemporary uses of Internet by students include purchasing, entertainment, and even dating. The investigation of how the Internet fits into the daily life of staff and students at educational institutions is worthwhile when one considers the ubiquitous and all pervasive communications tool features of the Internet. Consequently, studies have been carried out in many places to understand how University students use the Internet, the purposes for which the students use the Internet, the search engines used, their Internet skills as well as problems that hinder efficient Internet use.
The Internet is very useful to university students and staff in Nigeria because it enables them to have access to timely, accurate and relevant information that cannot be obtained from library shelves. Internet searching helps university students to boost their intellectual development and job preparation. Due to the endless nature of information resources on the Internet, libraries are increasingly investing in provision of Internet services and resources to enable their clients have better access to the information. The Internet connections also constitute a highly visible service in every library and the librarians and their clients have embraced it in their daily work. Academic libraries now run information literacy courses to educate faculty members and students on skills to access, retrieve and evaluate information resources from the Internet.
The single most significant technological development in the last 20 years has been the Internet. The Internet makes it possible for individuals to connect, collaborate and share knowledge, information, document, photo, video, etc. continuously with anyone in the world. Furthermore, people are able to make use of social media tools in order to increase range and richness of their networks, gather information and nowadays, increasingly organizations are finding ways of integrating social media into their business processes (Gaál et al, 2014). It is the light of the above that this research work will seek to the use of social media by Part-time students in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Social media has influenced the educational system in Nigeria universities. Its introduction has played a significant role for self development, administration, teaching and learning in both collegies and universities. However, from research dimension, many researchers have tried to write about one aspect or another on the subject of use of social media by students in Nigeria but not much has been carried out in the area of the extent of using social media by part-time students for self development in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma Edo State.
Also, several studies has dealt on the impact of the use of social media by undergraduate students and its influence on their academic performance, and the use of social media by part-time students have not been employed. Hence this study was designed to investigate the extent of using social media by part-time students for self development in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma Edo State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general Objective of the study is to examine the extent of using social media by part-time students for self development in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma Edo State. The specific objectives of the study are to:
- Examine the use of social media by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University.
- Examine the extent of usage of social media by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University.
- Examine the purpose of the usage of social media by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University.
- Determine benefits of using social media by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University.
- Challenges facing the use of social media site by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions are formulated to guide the study.
- Are social media used by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University?
- To what extent is social media used by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University?
- What are the purposes of the usage of social media by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University?
- What are the benefits of using social media by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University?
- What are the challenges facing the use of social media by part-time students in Ambrose Alli University?
1.5 Scope of the Study
This research work centered on the extent of using social media by part-time students for self development in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma Edo State.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study will be of great significant to students. It is expected that the output of this research will benefit students in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma Edo State specially the part-time students under study. It will help to determine the level of the students’ usage of social media. This help to enlighten the students of using social media and as well as the precaution necessary to take in the, use of social media site. The outcome of this study will also help the lecturers and university how best to sustain the students’ attention on using social media and the immense benefit on the use of social media. Also this work will be of immense benefit to the field of Library and information sciences as it will be on addition to existing literature.
Also the findings could be used by academic advisers and counselors to proffer professional advice to the university authorities on how to regulate the social media usage among part-time students of Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma.
Again, the findings of this study would provide facts that will enable the ministry of communication technology to know what arises from students’ use of the social media.
This will help the ministry, to know how to control social media usage. Upon successful completion of this research, it shall be very relevant to various people, across Nigeria.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The following operational definition of terms will be used in this study:
Social media are computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. Social media is defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.
Social Networking: Social Networking is described social networking websites as systems that allow individuals to: (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.
Tertiary: This refers to as the third stage, third level and post- secondary education in the higher learning.
Institution: An institution is defined as a process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, belief and habits.
Students: According to Merriam Webster dictionary, a student is a person who attends a school, college or university.
Part-Time: According to oxford advanced learner dictionary 8th edition define part-time as part of day or week in which people work or study.
Self Development: Is defined as the process of taking steps to better yourself, such as by learning new skills or overcoming bad habit. It also a process whrerby a person character or ability are gradually developed.