Online learning has never been more popular than it is today. Due to the rapid growth of online instruction at colleges and universities, questions about the effectiveness of online courses have been raised. In this paper, we suggest guidelines for the selection and application of social media tools. In addition to describing the potential implications of social media integrated into online learning environments (OLEs), this paper also presents new and established best practices to stimulate meaningful social interactions in OLEs. We propose five essential instructional approaches used in combination with social media tools for creating participatory OLEs. Drawing from the relevant literature in this area, we suggest a new framework that includes planned social interactions, collaborative activities, authentic learning, self-regulation, and assessment of participation to create a successful online learning experience for students.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/quincy_conley/17/