MnKandla and Minnaar (2017) conducted a meta synthesis on how to use social media for e-learning. The purpose of the study was to investigate how institutions could use social media (for example, Twitter, Face Book, My Space and so on) as an online learning tool. There were seven themes that emerged from the meta synthesis. The themes were as follows: idea generation, idea organization, knowledge building, social learning, deep learning, student support and safe environment. Firstly, idea generation was about using blogging and wiki for e-learning. Students could interact and learn from each other using those tools. Secondly, idea organization was how students used knowledge and made sense of the knowledge using problem solving skills. That is, students would interact within groups and solve problems in an online environment. Thirdly, knowledge building was where students collaborated with other students and created an environment of knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing. Fourthly, social media was the tool used for e-learning. As stated earlier, the tool could be Twitter, Face Book and so on. In addition, social media was about students’ “participation, collaboration, interactivity, community building, sharing, networking, creativity, distribution, and flexibility” (p. 239). Fifthly, deep learning was all about building trust, understanding reflection, and group interaction. Six of all, student support was about coming together and sharing and transferring knowledge. And, seventh of all, the learning environment dealt with complying with the rules in e-learning. Thus, combining the themes together, according to the researchers, made up a deep learning environment.


This study was very useful and resourceful. It provided a meta synthesis of the research that was important for online learners to interact and transfer knowledge in an online environment. In comparison, many of the other similar studies were single studies with single outcomes and perspectives. However, in contrast, this study provided a research methodology that produced emerging themes. The emerging themes constructed a conceptual framework that directly related to collaboration and e-learning. In addition, the researchers methodically explained how the seven themes elicited learning in an online environment.


This study reflected on how learners could interact and solve problems in an online environment. The emerging themes were constructed for e-learning environments. For instance, the study addressed some of the main concerns about studying in an online environment. Those concerns were related to trust building and security requirements. Very few other studies addressed learning and security requirements in the same vein.

Mnkandla, E., & Minnaar, A. (2017). The Use of Social Media in E-Learning: A Metasynthesis. International Review Of Research In Open & Distance Learning, 18(5), 227-247.

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