Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 67, Issue 5, pp 1231–1257 | Cite as

A review of empirical studies of affordances and development of a framework for educational adoption of mobile social media

  • Sijia XueEmail author
  • Daniel Churchill
Development Article


As one of the most widely adopted mobile and social media applications, Tencent WeChat ® (‘WeChat’) has been increasingly used in education at all levels in Asia, and in China in particular. However, only a small number of studies have been conducted to explore educational affordances of WeChat. In this paper, these affordances are defined as opportunities for an educational activity that are determined and supported by perceived and actual features of a technology tool or an environment (Gibson in The ecological approach to visual perception, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1979; Norman in The psychology of everyday things, Basic Books, New York, 1988; Sanders in Ecol Psychol 9(1):97–112, 1997). The authors conducted a review of 21 studies out of a pool of 1984 identified publications on the topic to examine existing practices, empirical studies and recommendations for the uses of WeChat, and with the over-reaching aim of articulating a framework for the adoption of educational affordances of mobile social media. Such framework will serve practice as well as research on educational uses of mobile social media and help extend theory of affordances in this domain. A total of seven categories of educational affordances of WeChat were explicated and included in this framework: Resources Sharing, Authentic Learning, Collaboration, Community Building, Motivating Environment, Evaluation and Feedback, and Administration for Learning. Guidelines for the adoption of this framework are developed, and suggestions for future research are proposed.


Mobile social media Affordances WeChat Mobile learning Technology in education 



This study has not received funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

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