Summary of the Problem and Purpose
Despite the fact that social media (SM) have been developing rapidly over the last decade, there is still a lack of research on the ways to integrate these resources in educational practices. Questions that also remain understudied include the benefits that SM integration will have when used by kindergarten teachers and the different effects that these platforms can have on the learning process. In countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, a relatively substantial amount of research has been done on this problem. However, Saudi Arabia remains one of the countries where the use of SM in kindergarten education is poorly studied and underutilized. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify the impact that SM can have on instructional practices of kindergarten teachers in Saudi Arabia.
Systematic Review of the Literature
In order to gain a more profound view on the subject and analyze it from different perspectives, the current study will review a number of sources. These sources will be discussed separately, proceeding from globally relevant research to that focusing specifically on the elements of the research question, and connections will be made between the main ideas presented. The first study that can be discussed to demonstrate a general view on the integration of SM platforms in teaching techniques was conducted by Greenhow et al. in 2019. This article presents a review of the studies published on the topic, analyzing the effects of SM on “student learning, teacher professional development, educational research practices, and communication of scholarship” (Greenhow et al., 2019, p. 178). The main question the study is trying to answer is about the role of technology and social media in modern education, and whether this role has to be enhanced. The study claims that SM integration can present new learning opportunities.
One example provided is the fact that SM can improve students’ active listening skills and increase engagement. First, the out-of-school time they spend on social media will allow them to have higher motivation while performing school-related tasks that require online participation. Second, it will facilitate student communication and collaboration, especially in case of restrictions related to school attendance. Third, SM will allow to “enhance students’ connections to communities, within and beyond the classroom” (Greenhow et al., 2019, p. 180). In addition, Greenhow et al. (2019) claim that the integration of online communication technologies will allow enhancing educational research practices through the use of new generated sources of data. Overall, this study supports SM integration in teaching practices, providing an account of tangible benefits.
While the previous study has presented a general overview of the possible advantages of social media use in education, the study by Barrot (2020) has presented a more specific review. The author has managed to create a research landscape, which includes the platforms that are considered most popular among teachers and the most productive countries where SM integration has been discussed extensively. These states include the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada, “with an output ranging from 102 to 245 papers” (Barrot, 2020, p. 655). The fifth country in this list was Turkey with 74 studies conducted on the topic, “overtaken by Taiwan and Spain with an h-index of 17 and 16, respectively” (Barrot, 2020, p. 655). The last three countries were China, Malaysia and Hong Kong, with a general output of 166 research articles (Barrot, 2020, p. 656). Therefore, it can be suggested that the majority of the countries where SM integration in education has been researched are developed countries with a relatively high level of economy and quality of life.
However, there has been less research done on the topic in relation to developing countries, as well as developed countries in the Middle East. One example of the research that focused on a developing country is a study conducted by Hassan and Kommers in 2018. This study focused on the integration of social media networks in teachers’ practices in Sudan, taking into account the limited extent to which they are able to use these technologies. Having analyzed the specific educational needs and characteristics of students in Sudan, the authors conclude that SM integration would help teachers to improve the quality of education.
While Saudi Arabia is considered to be a developed country due to the rapid economic growth it has demonstrated in recent decades, there is little research focusing on SM integration in education in this country. The relation of SM practices to and their effect on kindergarten education is even less studied. An example of the research done on early childhood education in Saudi Arabia is a 2022 study by Albahar and Alammari. The authors claim that it is especially important for kindergarten teachers to integrate social media in teaching practices because “young children’s cognitive development and capacity to learn” will allow them to achieve more productive results (Albahar & Alammari, 2022, p. 6). Al-Hezam (2017) has also attempted to incorporate the findings of the international research in the practices of teachers in Saudi Arabia. Having analyzed the benefits of technology application in kindergarten education, the author has suggested a specific strategy to use SM to help children during their transition from kindergarten to primary school (Al-Hezam, 2017). Therefore, it can be argued that SM integration does not only expand the learning opportunities available to kindergarten children, but can also facilitate challenging processes.
Relevance to the Current Study and Limitations
In relation to the current topic, the research reviewed shows that a comprehensive analysis of the impact of SM integration on the instructional practices in Saudi Arabia is still lacking. However, the previous research also sheds light on the topic, as it allows analyzing various perspectives on it. Thus, the findings of the international research can be applied to the discussion of the specific subject in the specific culture. In addition, they provide data on different aspects of the research question, such as the benefits of SM integration to improve different aspects of the learning process. Some limitations of the studies reviewed include the lack of the qualitative synthesis of the research done on the topic and the insignificant amount of non-English research available to scholars. The aspect of my work that has not been addressed sufficiently by the previous research is the specific impact that SM integration will have on kindergarten children in Saudi Arabia. In addition, it has not been discussed whether cultural characteristics will affect learning outcomes and children’s use of technologies. Therefore, additional research may focus on these specific aspects of the question.
While there is a clear connection between the proposed study and the previous works, there is also an obvious need for further research. To ensure that kindergarten teachers in Saudi Arabia use technologies and social media networks in the most productive ways, researchers and educators need to develop comprehensive teaching approaches and strategies. These practices have to be based on the clear understanding of the impact that various platforms can have on the learning process. In addition, research has to focus on which of the activities used in and outside the classroom can benefit most from specific types of online resources.
Albahar, M., & Alammari, A. (2022). STEAM Education in Saudi Arabia: Early Childhood Teachers’ Perceptions. International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies, 13(5), 1-10.
Al-Hezam, D. M. (2017). The impact of digital technology on children’s transition from kindergarten to primary school: Bringing concepts from international research and practice to Saudi Arabia. Waikato Journal of Education, 22(2), 47-52.
Barrot, J. S. (2020). Scientific mapping of social media in education: A decade of exponential growth. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 59(4), 645-668.
Greenhow, C., Galvin, S. M., & Staudt Willet, K. B. (2019). What should be the role of social media in education? Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 6(2), 178-185.
Hassan, M. I., & Kommers, P. (2018). A review on effect of social media on education in Sudan. International Journal of Educational Technology and Learning, 3(1), 30-34.