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Article

Breaching Learners’ Social Distancing through Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic

1
Department of Education, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2
School of Doctorate Education & ICT (E-Learning), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, 08018 Barcelona, Spain
3
Department of Engineering, Bedford College, Bedford MK42 9AH, UK
4
Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, 08018 Barcelona, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Wasim Ahmed and Josep Vidal-Alaball
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11012; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111012
Received: 23 September 2021 / Revised: 12 October 2021 / Accepted: 15 October 2021 / Published: 20 October 2021
Higher education has been shifted toward blended learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. An increase in social media usage intensity and reduced face-to-face interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic urged instructional communication researchers to revisit the dynamics of learners’ group development in terms of their socialization and academic performance during the COVID-19 crisis. This research aimed to determine the mediating role of social media sociability between face-to-face socialization and academic performance of higher education students in blended learning environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the aim of the study to determine the moderating effect of social media usage intensity on social media sociability. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with the students (n = 340) enrolled in science teacher education departments of universities in Pakistan. Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was used for multivariate analysis. Results revealed that face-to-face socialization gave an essential start to develop a learning group. However, when face-to-face socialization was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was mediated by social media usage in blended learning environments to increase their socialization and academic performance during the crisis. The findings of the study are useful for higher education institutions to adopt social media strategies for students’ socialization during the crisis. View Full-Text
Keywords: academic performance; blended learning; COVID-19; social media academic performance; blended learning; COVID-19; social media
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MDPI and ACS Style

Asghar, M.Z.; Iqbal, A.; Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, P.; Barbera, E. Breaching Learners’ Social Distancing through Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11012. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111012

AMA Style

Asghar MZ, Iqbal A, Seitamaa-Hakkarainen P, Barbera E. Breaching Learners’ Social Distancing through Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(21):11012. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111012

Chicago/Turabian Style

Asghar, Muhammad Z., Ayesha Iqbal, Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, and Elena Barbera. 2021. "Breaching Learners’ Social Distancing through Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 21: 11012. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111012

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