Ways to foster creativity, innovation, and network connection through social media

Many researchers have posited that the use of social media can support 21st century education (e.g., O’Shea, 2013, Bunsong, 2018). Social media has been applied for educational benefits to exchange information and share ideas with others quickly. The education system of the 21st century focuses on learning deep thinking skills in a changing world. The features and benefits of social media permit an individual’s ability to learn anytime, anywhere and helps promote a good relationship between teachers and students. Social media supports networked connections in higher education by helping two-way interactions (e.g., teacher to student, peer to peer) in communication, brainstorming, and collaboration. Information and knowledge may be developed and ideas may be refined in the process of networked connections.

The potential of social media could be used to encourage creative thinking, inspire innovative thinking, facilitate co-creating innovation, and enhance learning engagement through well-designed learning activities that promote ideas, knowledge, and resources sharing. Through the process of knowledge and ideas sharing, diverse ideas could be generated, and that helps develop abilities in imagination, creativity, and innovation.

A variety of instructional strategies can be used to facilitate creative thinking, but Knowlton and Sharp (2015) indicated that the fundamental and primary elements include knowledge acquisition and journal reflection. AlMutairi (2015) proposed to use a group brainstorming strategy to develop creative thinking, in which a specific problem is presented and discussion is stimulated, guiding students to solve the given problem. Seechaliao (2017) suggested that the following instructional strategies could be used to support the creation of creative and innovative educational experiences: design based learning, problem solving, creative problem solving, creative thinking, research based learning, problem-based learning, and project-based learning. These instructional strategies have common elements and processes; they all center on the idea of using problems as a starting point, and then asking students to find, test, and evaluate solutions.

Vongtathum (2015) explained that innovation occurs when creative problemsolving skills are used to solve complicated problems from diverse ideas. Diverse ideas may be generated from both convergent thinking, which brings together a combination of knowledge and previous experiences, and divergent thinking, which relies on creative thinking in which many possible solutions and ideas are generated (Vongtathum, 2015).

Kanchanachaya (2016) proposed a guideline consisting of five steps for creative problem solving, with the intent of supporting individuals for 21st century life. This guideline focuses on 1) fact finding, 2) problem finding, 3) idea finding, 4) solution finding, and 5) acceptance finding. Kanchanachaya (2016) believed that following this guideline could also improve a student’s critical thinking, problemsolving, and creative and innovative skills. Sinlarat et al. (2016) explained that learners need to follow the innovation’s processes and have diverse skills supporting each process which are crucial skills to create an innovation. The processes are: 1) Searching, learners need to have critical thinking and creative thinking, 2) Designing and selecting, learners need to have design thinking and selective thinking, 3) Implementing, learners need to have productive thinking and problem solving thinking, 4) Capturing, learners need to have entrepreneurial thinking and leadership thinking. Although there are plenty of instructional strategies for developing creativity and innovation, instructional designers and lectures need to be careful to select appropriate instructional strategies to support their classes according to the learning context and situations.

Using social media to develop creativity, innovation, and networked connection in Thailand higher education

Social media tools are mostly used to facilitate communication and collaboration in higher education learning environments. However, many Thai educators want to use them for more than just the enhancement of communication and collaboration. They wanted to exploit the sharing and communication features of social media to help students gain deep-level learning outcomes and to foster their creativity and innovation. By using social media in this way, they could respond to the Thailand Ministry’ of Education’s emphasis on creativity and innovation as an important competency' area.

The challenge, then, has been for Thai educators to learn how to use social media to support learning in this competency area. Several Thai educators and researchers have been working on this problem, identifying necessary conditions and learning activities that will support the development of creativity and innovation through social media use. Through this work, they seek to help Thai graduates be better prepared for participation in the global workforce.

To help identify key' factors to develop creative and innovative thinking through social networks, Papattha and Jeerungsuwan (2014) interviewed eight experts who specialized in education, information and technology', and creative thinking. Their findings suggested three essential factors for creative thinking: creating knowledge, learning resources, and technology'. Each factor is then composed of several key components. Creating knowledge through the learning process includes seven steps: problem finding, data acquisition, analysis, solution finding, revise/evaluation, acceptance finding, and convergent thinking. There are four elements concerning learning resources: learning media, technology' media, context, and communication. Technology' through social networking consists of six elements: identity network, creative network, interested network, collaboration network, gaming/virtual reality, and peer-to-peer communication. When any of the key elements is lacking, the development of creative thinking may be hindered.

Jariyapoom and Piriyasurawong (2016) proposed the design of learning activities with creative problem solving via Facebook using the following five steps: 1 ) problem defining, 2) data finding, 3) solution finding, 4) solution selecting, and 5) acceptance finding. These activities were conducted in groups on Facebook. Information sharing, brainstorming, collaboration, and feedback exchange all occur on Facebook. Five experts evaluated the learning outcomes of these activities in order to verify the effectiveness of the learning activities. The results suggested that these learning activities could effectively improve creative thinking.

Real examples of how social media technology' has been used to develop creativity, innovation, and networked connections in Thailand higher education are provided below. These cases were chosen because they represent successfi.il instructional design and resulted in improved student learning outcomes.

Sittiwong (2015) integrated Facebook in the Graphics Design and Production for Education course at Naresuan University. This course combined both theory' and practical applications. Facebook was for practical reasons. In this course, students were asked to create original projects. They then submitted their work via Facebook and received feedback from the instructor and peers. Students used this feedback to continue to develop their work and skills, and to shape their creativity and thoughts.

This solution helped solve an earlier classroom problem. During the classroom meeting times, students presented their work first, and then the instructor provided feedback and suggestions for their work individually. Because students wanted to get specific and constructive feedback and suggestions from the instructor about their individual work, they were reluctant to leave even after the class time was over. In this course. Facebook served as an expanded learning setting. It helped decrease the amount of in-class time devoted to presentations and feedback in the face-to-face class. The instructors and students could continue to provide feedback after the class, on Facebook. Facebook allowed students to express opinions to their classmates and the instructors in this learning community. In other words. Facebook facilitated a networked and engaged learning community.

Auttaput, Sittiwong, and Teeraputon (2017) applied social networking concepts and active learning in the design and production of computer graphics course for undergraduate students at Nakhonsawan Rajabhat University. In this course, teachers used Facebook to create a learning community, and learning activities were integrated with Facebook. Students used Facebook to express their ideas, share new knowledge, and interact with peers. Teachers applied a student-centered method of teaching and encouraged students to ask questions and provided usefi.il feedback. Thus, students felt comfortable to ask questions and interact freely with teachers. Students reflected their thoughts frequently' along this learning journey. At the end of this course, students’ learning outcomes showed great improvement in creativity and innovation.

Kultawanich (2018) created a blended learning model via social media to promote creativity’ and innovation for an Electronic Publishing course in the Agricultural Communication program at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology in Ladkrabang in 2015. Several social media tools, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Linoit (sticky notes), and Google Forms were used to support teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom. Kultawanich’s blended learning model consisted of four components: social media tools, learning assessment, learning content, and instructor roles. The learning system used in this course contained five steps: 1) goal setting, 2) seeking inspiration, 3) creating a dummy’ (i.e., a design prototype), 4) presenting, and 5) developing results. The instructors posted learning materials on Facebook and students were given learning tasks focused on design concepts. Examples of good design were provided on Pinterest and students were encouraged to find and add new design examples. Such learning activities helped inspire, encourage, and generate students’ ideas. After that, students were required to find more information to create a dummy’ and share it on Linoit. Then, students presented the dummies they created on Facebook and were encouraged to provide comments and feedback to others’ products. Then, students improved their dummies to a finished product and shared on Linoit and collected more feedback on Google Forms. Overall, students had high satisfaction during this learning activity’ and offered positive feedback on this course. Moreover, students improved their confidence in visual design.

Across these examples, social media tools were used to expand the classroom, increase student-centeredness, and facilitate peer communication and critique opportunities. These successful instances in Thailand show that social media can be a powerful and effective tool that can be used to facilitate creativity', innovation, and networked connections. However, to serve this function, it must also be well designed and skillfully' executed. The 21st century' skills focus on deeper-level thinking and problem-solving skills. Therefore, to equip students with 21st century skills, students must be trained to create new ideas, analyze and critically evaluate related information or learning resources presented as well as to initiate reflection. During this training process, students apply prior knowledge and experiences to given problems and situations, which in turn may' lead to new idea generation and innovation.

Social media is a great medium where students can share information and resources, and exchange ideas. However, higher education institutions need to consider issues concerning privacy, ownership of data, and legal responsibility. It is thus necessary' to identify the problems and limitations of integrating social media in higher education in order to mitigate the risks and make adoption more successful (Chugh and Ruhi, 2018).


To align with the Thailand Education 4.0 initiative and accomplish the policies of all Thailand Education, educational institutions have the responsibility to prepare students with the necessary' skills and competencies for the future. Thai students are expected to become creative and innovative. To achieve this goal, students need to be taught critical learning skills and encouraged to create new ideas and to solve complex problems. Social media has been identified as one means to engage students with the learning process and with their peers as well as to facilitate interactions and the exchange of ideas. Through the process of information sharing, new ideas may be promoted and generated. Additionally, by being online students are exposed to global ideas and perspectives. As a result, those learning activities and processes help develop creativity and innovation. When integrating social media into higher education, instructors should design appropriate teaching and learning strategies to guide students to create new ideas and various solutions for solving different problems in diverse situations. For better quality learning outcomes, social media integration must be appropriately designed and developed to fit with the learning content, teaching strategies, learning activities, and instructional models.


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