Applying social media for studying challenges of COVID-19 for students


  • Tiit Elenurm Estonian Business School



social media, knowledge co-creation, COVID-19, networking, Facebook group


This conference paper contributes to understanding opportunities to use social media for identifying the priorities and challenges of students from different countries in online and face-to-face learning and networking activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in more intensive online learning and hybrid learning applications in higher education. When there is a shift from a teacher-controlled class environment to a more learner-controlled social media, the role of the educator becomes more of a facilitator. The main research question in this paper is: How social media activities facilitated by instructors can support international learner-driven online networking and knowledge sharing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Our action research aim was to reveal learning preferences and networking challenges that students do not usually share in a class environment. Despite critics of Facebook and the increasing popularity of alternative social media among young people, Facebook groups offer tools for discourse between different age cohorts and conduct polls to assess alternative educational tools and COVID-19 administrative restrictions that influence student mobility and socialisation. To study the challenges of COVID-19 for students in online learning and in physical interaction, we applied netnography methods in combination with interventions by educators to study students’ preferences in the Facebook group Challenges in online learning – COVID-19. Among the most popular Facebook polls for students were questions about group work and exam arrangements during the pandemic and work from anywhere practice implications, cross-border mobility regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic and reasons why some students do not participate in web conferences using their computer cameras. Students shared the view that flexible online work from anywhere solutions will be for many organisations among trends that will remain after the COVID-19 crisis is over. Some students, both from Europe and developing countries, believed that this trend would improve job opportunities for the workforce living in low-cost countries. Facebook group enabled international knowledge sharing, where both students and educators could share their views on many issues that influence the rapidly changing online learning and networking environment.