Social media for collaborative learning: A review of school literature

  • Michael Henderson Monash University
  • Ilana Snyder Monash University
  • Denise Beale Monash University


Social media are widely seen as having transformational potential in school education. However, there is a surprising lack of empirical research in schools about the pedagogical designs of social media and particularly the factors that facilitate or hinder desirable outcomes. Consequently, this paper offers a review of the limited empirical research literature, and is particularly valuable because it not only focuses on school contexts, when the literature is dominated by the tertiary sector, but also because it carefully excludes uses of social media that do not leverage its particular affordances, that is, social interactivity. Findings reveal a series of design principles for educators, including three broad conclusions that social media for collaborative purposes is best utilised when: (a) social media is not redundant to current practices but offer something new, (b) strategies are in place to help students learn how to work collaboratively, and (c) the tasks are appropriate.

Author Biographies

Michael Henderson, Monash University
Dr Michael Henderson is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. His research focuses on the relationship between new media and education, and the implications for professional and student learning. His publications focus on the affordances and risks of social networking in education, technology-mediated professional learning communities, and online teaching strategies. His current research focuses on the nexus between teaching/learning, identity construction, and computer mediated social interaction such as experienced in web 2.0 and multi-user virtual environments.
Ilana Snyder, Monash University
Ilana Snyder is a professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. Her research has investigated the changes to literacy practices associated with the use of digital technologies. Books that explore these changes include Hypertext (1996) and Page to Screen (1997), while The Literacy Wars (2008) examines the volatile media debates in Australia around literacy education. Most recently, she has co-edited two collections of essays with John Nieuwenhuysen: Closing the Gap in Education? (2010) and A HomeAway From Home? (2011).
Denise Beale, Monash University
Denise taught English and languages in schools for many years before completing a PhD in 2009 which examined federal government policy to promote computers in Australian schools. She has since completed a number of extended critical literature reviews and is currently working on two ongoing research projects in the Faculty of Education, Monash University, which explore the challenges of social media to schools and the role of doctoral education in the knowledge economy.


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How to Cite
Henderson, M., Snyder, I., & Beale, D. (2013). Social media for collaborative learning: A review of school literature. Australian Educational Computing, 28(2). Retrieved from
Research Articles (Refereed/Reviewed)