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Rural Chinese Older Adults Use of Social Media as a Learning Tool: Opportunities and Obstacles to Learning

  • Author / Creator
    Wang, Zhongrui
  • Because of the development of digital technology, social media is becoming an indispensable software in everyone's mobile phones and computers. The rise of social media has led educators and learners to explore the possibilities of integrating it into the field of learning. Social media's unique features of personalisation, comprehensiveness and breadth make it an invaluable learning tool. In China's vast rural areas, social media is gradually becoming a major learning tool for older adults. However, in such an era of rapid development of the Internet and social media, older people in rural areas, who are in a weaker position in the composition of all Internet users, are becoming more and more marginalised.
    Currently, academics widely discuss how social media are used by students in their learning, but few studies have focused on the use of social media for learning by older adults in rural China, nor have they examined what social media older adults in rural China use for learning, and what is the current situation they face in their learning. Therefore, it is important to understand the experiences of rural Chinese older learners using social media as a means of learning in order to better integrate social media technologies into the learning of rural older adults, which can contribute to the development of education as well as the ability of rural older adults to develop themselves.
    This qualitative study captured the experiences of older learners using social media as a learning tool through interviews in Mulan Township, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.Four participants took part in this study through semi-structured interviews, all of whom were between 60 and 75 years old, spoke Mandarin, and at the time of the interviews had at least 1-3 years of experience in using social media for learning. The data analysis methodology of grounded theory was used in this study, specifically, through a three-step process, open, axial, and selective coding were extracted from the raw data, and these codes were combined into different main categories and elements based on the research questions. This study concludes that social media has now become a major learning tool for older adults in rural China, and that in using social media for learning, there are benefits such as security and content richness, but there are also challenges such as information leakage and lack of instruction.
    Finally, based on the results of this study, some suggestions for future research and practice are made, such as investigating the influence of family members on older adults' use of social media as a learning tool.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-pyvs-rq60
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.