What educational leaders should know about social media, collaboration and doctoral learning
In a global society where knowledge, degrees, and credentials cross international borders, understanding what and how doctoral students think and communicate about learning is relevant to educational leadership. An implication could be in creating new solutions to the age-old problem of students completing coursework but not a dissertation, and therefore, not graduating. United States doctoral students are taking advantage of social media platforms to create, develop, or enhance Personal Learning Networks (PLN). A team of researchers using a qualitative research methodology studied both the views and experiences of nine doctoral students, who were members of a closed Facebook group created specifically as a PLN. The results of the research study confirmed that the students use social media for academic and personal communication, emotional support, and direction through the dissertation stage of doctoral studies. Thematic results concluded that the participants sought help with questions and answers about research, guidance on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process, and celebrating achievements. Trust was also a significant factor in ensuring the completion of dissertations. The results provide educational leaders useful information and insight into the impact of social media on teaching, research, culture, and learning environmental designs.