The Exploration Of Social Media Usage By University Students In Bulawayo For Academic Purposes
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It is beyond any reasonable doubt that the introduction of social media, has impacted immensely on the lives of the university students. Realizing that most of today`s university students spend much of their time on various social media platforms, several universities (especially in the developed countries) have embraced social media in their education system. However, it must be pointed out that the same cannot be said in most developing countries such as my country, Zimbabwe because very little has been done by the universities in ensuring that students fully benefit from social media usage academically. Therefore, this research study explored how the university students at one of Zimbabwe`s universities, NUST make use of social media for their academic purposes. Essentially, the thesis outlined and discussed the benefits and challenges that the NUST students face in their social media usage for academic purposes as well as offered some recommendations aimed at addressing this matter. The target population for this research study was mainly the NUST students who were randomly selected regardless of their sex, age, social status or faculty. The methods used in the collection of data were questionnaire surveys and interviews (qualitative methods). A total of 285 NUST students participated in the questionnaire surveys and 7 educators were interviewed. The research findings showed that indeed the NUST students were aware of social media existence and usage for academic purposes. However, the current economic crisis in Zimbabwe and poor ICT infrastructure were among the main challenges that hindered the NUST students from fully benefiting from social media academically. On the other hand, the findings also established that there were benefits gained from using social media for academic purposes which included; easy sharing of information, collaborative learning and improvement of the students` digital and communication skills.