Education and Information Technologies

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 451–464 | Cite as

How are campus students using social media to support their studies? An explorative interview study

  • Stefan Hrastinski
  • Naghmeh M. Aghaee


Social media hype has created a lot of speculation among educators on how these media can be used to support learning, but there have been rather few studies so far. Our explorative interview study contributes by critically exploring how campus students perceive using social media to support their studies and the perceived benefits and limitations compared with other means. Although the vast majority of the respondents use social media frequently, a “digital dissonance” can be noted, because few of them feel that they use such media to support their studies. The interviewees mainly put forth e-mail and instant messaging, which are used among students to ask questions, coordinate group work and share files. Some of them mention using Wikipedia and YouTube for retrieving content and Facebook to initiate contact with course peers. Students regard social media as one of three key means of the educational experience, alongside face-to-face meetings and using the learning management systems, and are mainly used for brief questions and answers, and to coordinate group work. In conclusion, we argue that teaching strategy plays a key role in supporting students in moving from using social media to support coordination and information retrieval to also using such media for collaborative learning, when appropriate.


Social media Online education Higher education Student perceptions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Stockholm UniversityKistaSweden

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