Background and Objective: The opportunity to participate and interact more in the learning process on social media is a good incentive to use alternative social media tools, in addition to the usual LMS. In contrast, when using Web 2.0 tools such as social media, the learner is placed in a learning community that can reach a high level of meaning making and knowledge/skill building through interaction with peers and content. Communication formed on social networks provides the basis for the implementation of communication and defines education in terms of interactions in a network in which students exchange their knowledge; Therefore, social media represents a good option to be used as an additional learning resource. Hence, the creation and development of a scientific and trusted social network that can cover the educational needs of the learners and teachers in a digital society and is always available to users is felt. On the other hand, the legal requirements of higher documents such as the 1/17 solution of Fundamental Document of Change of Education that states the filling of the digital divide between educational areas and schools, unveils the need to create a social network of Iranian schools as a suitable platform for key users of learning-teaching environment. Therefore, in order to design a virtual social network model in schools, it is necessary to identify the main and sub-components of this model. The purpose of this study was to compile a model for desiging a virtual social network for Iranian schools.
Methods This reseach utilized a mixed– quantitative and qualitative – method, and it was carried out with an exploratory design. The study population in the qualitative phase included the accessible 45 written and electronic documents in English and Persian selected by using purposive sampling. Data collection and analysis were done using inductive content analysis method. The quantitative phase was performed using a survey. The study population included the educational technology specialists of Iran from which a sample of 30 educational technology professors and Ph.D. Candidates were selected on an accessible basis. To collect data, a researcher-made questionnaire was used, the validity and reliability of which was determined by professional assessment and by Cronbach’s alpha (0.86), respectively. To analyze the data, a single-sample t-test was employed.
Findings: The findings of the study led to the identification of four main features: network learning, network facilitation, network moderation, network technology, as well as sixteen sub-features, which were functionally and semantically similar to the main features. The results also showed that the extracted model has a high internal validity.
Conclusion: According to the results of this study, integrating the existing social netwroks into the present LMSs as a learning environemtn can support network learning in alignment with cultural-constructivism and communicativism. In this context, it defines the active roles in the learning environment in accordance with their functions in this era. Regarding the results of the research hypothesis, it can be concluded that, the extracted model, which includes components such as network learning, network facilitation, network management, and network technology, makes it possible to support student learning in the context of network technology. These components make it possible to implement model patterns in schools. The clear and distinct definitions of the components lead to an accurate understanding of the users and their comprehensiveness. Therefore, the model in question was valid from the point of view of experts who had practical knowledge about the use of social networks in learning.
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