110. Name: Jenny Eppard Title: Enhancing Informal Learning Using Social Media: A Case
Study of Blogging on Al Jazeera Institution: University of Virginia Country: United States Date: 2013 Language: English Abstract:
This study explores the nature of participation in a social media site dedicated to a humanitarian crisis. For approximately one year, the researcher collected data on the Al Jazeera English Syria blog and the Go Free Syria blog. Staff at the Al Jazeera channel established the blog as a forum to discuss the Arab Spring as it pertained to Syria. Data collection included detached and participant observations, and conducted interviews with 10 informants. The types of data included text, images, videos and links to other websites. Activity Theory served as a framework for initial questions guiding the examination of participation. However, this study was exploratory so more themes emerged during the analysis process. The findings highlighted the mechanisms used for participating on the blog, the interplay between the various mechanisms and the connections between the blog and other external virtual systems. While learning could not be proven with certitude, theoretically all of these points represent the characteristics needed for a learning environment. One of the most obvious findings on the blog was the strong sense of community felt by many of the bloggers.
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