Muscat: The Block Funding Programme of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation has funded an array of innovative and insightful research projects of different fields and topics in the hopes of promoting the culture of research and innovation in the Sultanate of Oman, .
'The effectiveness of social media networks for distance education among students of the University of Technology and Applied Sciences in Rustaq' was one such project. The research project aimed to explore the effectiveness of social media networks for distance education among students at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences Rustaq (UTAS Rustaq), and to uncover the differences that may be attributed to the variables such as gender, specialisation, and stage of study in a sample consisting of 40 male and female students chosen randomly from UTAS Rustaq.
The study was conducted by a student research team consisting of Ali Al Rasbi, Omar Al Zadjal and Ahmed Al Muqbali, under the supervision of Dr. Mimi El-Sayed Ahmed Ismail, Professor of Educational Psychology at the College of Education at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences Rustaq.
The importance of this research study is to make the society aware of students’ readiness to acquire science and knowledge through social media platforms, and to change society’s negative perception of these platforms. The research study also contributes to developing future plans for distance education, and confronting the challenges that some institutions suffer from due to limited experience in the field.
Through the study, the results showed that measuring the level of effectiveness of social media networks for distance learning among students at UTAS Rustaq was moderate. The study also showed that most students prefer distance learning through social media platforms compared to direct learning.
Based on the results, the study recommended training teachers to use social media platforms for educational purposes, in addition to conducting community awareness programmes on the importance of social media networks and their benefits in teaching and learning methods. The study also recommended improving social media network infrastructure in educational institutions in the Sultanate.