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Student-initiated Use of Facebook for Academic Learning: A Case Study


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SONG, Yang (Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong) …

SONG, Yang (Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong)

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  • 1. Student-initiated Use of Facebookfor Academic Learning: A CaseStudySong YangFaculty of EducationThe University of Hong Kong
  • 2. Outline of the presentation Research background Research questions Theoretical perspectives Case study Results and discussion Conclusion
  • 3. Research background The educational promise of asynchronous discussionplatforms, including Facebook Groups, as a learningenvironment They provide the material necessities for the construction of virtualcommunities. The popularity of Facebook bestows on college students theflexibility to “use familiar tools to explore the unfamiliar”(Anderson, Boyles, and Rainie 2012, 22). The embedded functions of document and image uploading andsharing allow students to curate and share different onlineresources within a virtual community and help foster a blendedlearning environment, i.e., a mixed use of face-to-face interactionand a variety of online channels of communication.
  • 4. Facebook and academic learning Course designer/instructor’s perspective Focusing on how to integrate SNSs in course design and to whatextent they can facilitate changes in pedagogy (Schwartz 2009;Schroeder and Greenbowe 2009) Simply replacing traditional learning environments withFacebook did not ensure better course performance orengagement in course activities (Kirschner and Karpinski 2010;Owston, Murphy and Lupshenyuk 2008) Students’ perspective Compared with college faculty, students use Facebook morefrequently and are more open to the inclusion of Facebook tosupport classroom learning (Valjataga, Pata and Tammets2011). Students should enjoy the liberty of media choices based ontheir learning needs, for which instructors should serve asfacilitators and design course activities accordingly (Sfard 1998)
  • 5. Research gap The gap between the instructors’ and students’perspectives of research resides in the tension betweenconventional paradigms of learning and knowledge andthe educational potentials of social networking sites. Though acknowledging that students are activeparticipants in learning activities, the prior classroomresearch designers have not address student agencywhen trying to engage them in a community of practice‘created’ by the instructor (Lave and Wenger 1991).
  • 6. Research questions How do students initiate and use Facebook for academiclearning? How do students position Facebook among other mediachoices in facilitation of academic learning? What pedagogical implications can be drawn fromlearning more about student-initiated use of Facebookfor classwork and pedagogical design?
  • 7. Theoretical perspectives Affinity space Defining features: a) engagement guided by authentic interest and/or goals set bythe learners themselves; b) the shared space of participation where all sorts of onlineresources are ready for access to and appropriation fromeveryone; c) the extended acceptance and even celebration of a variety ofuser-generated content; d) overall encouragement towards content production, display,distribution and responses; e) overall respect and encouragement towards tacit learning orexperiences of being ‘caught to learn’ (Gee 2004, 88).
  • 8. Theoretical perspectives Taxonomy of asynchronous discussion (Knowlton 2005)Participation type Conception of discussionsPassive Channel for class members to receive knowledge for those in authorityDevelopmental Social conversations and locus for community buildingGenerative Space to develop one’s ideas individually and report them to the instructorDialogicalForum for interacting with others and their ideas to build and clarifyunderstandingsMetacognitiveForum for interacting with others and their ideas to build and clarifyunderstandings and an opportunity to reflect on the process of knowledgedevelopment
  • 9. Case study A case of student-initiated use of Facebook Groups tocomplete a team project for an online journalism course Students were asked to form a group of four or five personsand work together to produce a themed multimedia newswebsite within two weeks. Data sources Facebook Groups data Student interviews In-class observation and recording Data analysis Microanalysis of Facebook Group activities Content analysis of transcripts of lessons and student interview
  • 10. Results
  • 11. Results
  • 12. Results
  • 13. Richard Richard played the role of coordinator and shifted inbetween the dialogical and metacognitive types ofparticipation. Richard’s metacognitive participation canbe found in three types of actions: (1) his reflexiveadaptation of the Facebook Groups to the needs of theirteam project and adjustment of his posting format and(2) his efforts in helping others to adapt to the learning-enhancing environment that he proposed, (3) initiationof voting and advice-seeking discussions in relation tosub-projects in his charge.
  • 14. ParticipantRole in the GroupProjectTypes ofparticipationRole in the affinityspaceRichardCoordinator,Project site managerMetacognitive,DialogicalReflexive moderator,Active contributorEmilySub-project manager,co-working with Rebecca,Christina and AdelineMetacognitive,Dialogical Active contributorRebeccaSub-project manager,co-working with EmilyMetacognitive,Dialogical Active contributorChristinaSub-project manager,co-working with EmilyMetacognitive,Dialogical Active contributorAdelineSub-project assistant,co-working with EmilyGenerativeNot very activecontributor
  • 15. Results: The construction of anaffinity space(1) The presence of a common endeavor to complete thecourse project, which was recorded and shared in an MSWord spreadsheet and was modified and updated from timeto time(2) The presence of a leader as reflexive moderator(3) Passionate, reflexive, self-directed, and dynamic waysof learning(4) An emphasis on interpersonal bonding and emotionalsupport
  • 16. Pedagogical implications The case study showed that the first step towards effectiveuse of Facebook for academic learning was to design coursetasks in light of the social constructivist view of learning. Apart from the appropriate pedagogical design, it is alsonecessary to spare a certain period of training for studentsto realize the educational potentials of SNS learningenvironments, such as Facebook Groups. Meanwhile, the students need to be given maximumfreedom to choose technology-enhanced learningenvironments that they are familiar with rather than toadopt something ‘new’ because of the instructor’spreference. The instructor needs to make students become aware of theinstructor’s role as facilitator or moderator and make surethat they know that the instructor is ready to help themwhenever they need.
  • 17. References Facebook, “Statistics”. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 15, 2013:, December 2012. M. Madden, “State of social media”. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from the WorldWide Web on March 16, 2013:, March 5, 2013. D. M. Boyd, and N. B. Ellison, “Social network sites: Definition, hisotry, and scholarship,” Journal ofComputer-Mediated Communication, vol. 13, pp. 210-230, 2008. M. D. Roblyer, M. McDaniel, M. Webb, J. Herman, and J. V. Witty, “Findings on Facebook in highereducation: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networkingsites,” The Internet and Higher Education, vol. 13, pp. 134-140, 2010. T. Occhino, “Tag friends in your status and posts,” The Facebook Blog. Retrieved from the World WideWeb on March 23, 2013 from:, September11, 2009. Facebook, “Group Basics”. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 17, 2013: H. Rheingold. Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. Cambridge, MA.: Perseus, 2002. W. Gibbs, L. D. Simpson, R. S. Bernas, “An anlalysis of temporal norms in online discussions,” J. Q. Anderson, J. L. Boyles, and L. Rainie, “The future impact of the Internet on higher education:Experts expect more-efficient collaborative environments and new grading schemes; they worry aboutmassive online courses, the shift away from on-campus life. Pew Research Center’s Internet &American Life Project, July 27, 2012. V. Peters, and J. Hewitt, “An investigation of student practices in asynchronous computer conferencingcourses,” Computers in Education, vol. 54, pp. 951-961, 2010.
  • 18. References A. F. Wise, N. Perera, Y-T Hsiao, J. Speer, and F. Marbouti, “Microanalytic case studies of individual participation patterns in an asynchronous onlinediscussion in an undergraduate blended course,” Internet and Higher Education, vol. 15, pp. 108-117, 2012. H. Schwartz, “Facebook: The new classroom commons?” The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. B13, October 2, 2009. J. Schroeder and T. Greenbowe, “The chemistry of Facebook: Using social networking to create an online community for the organic chemistrylaboratory,” Innovate Journal of Online Edcuation, vol. 5, 2009. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 17, 2013 from: M. DeSchryver, P. Mishra, M. Koehler, and A. Francis, “Moodle vs. Facebook: Does using Facebook for disucssions in an online course enhanceperceived social presence and student interaction?” In: I. Gibson et al. (Ed.): Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and TeacherEducation International Conference (pp. 329-336). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. G. Attwell, “The personal learning environments: The future of elearning?” eLearning Papers, vol. 2, pp. 1-8, 2007. P. A. Kirschner, and A. C. Karpinski, “Facebook® and academic performance,” Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 6, 1237–1245, 2010. R. Owston, H. Wideman, J. Murphy, D. Lupshenyuk, “Blended teacher professional development: A Synthesis of three program evaluations,”Internet and Higher Education, vol. 11, pp. 201-210, 2008. S. Valenzuela, N. Park, and K. F. Kee, “Lessons from Facebook: The effect of social network sites on college students’ social capital.” In:Proceedings of the 9thInternational Symposium on Online Journalism, April 4-5, Austin, Texas, 2008. C. Madge, J. Meek, J. Wellens, and T. Hooley, “Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: ‘It is more for socialising and talkingto friends about work than for actually doing work’,” Learning, media and Technology, vol. 34, pp. 141-155, 2009. T. Valjataga, K. Pata, and K. Tammets, “Considering students’ perspective on personal and distributed learning environments. In: M. J. W. Lee andC. McLoughlin (Eds.): Web 2.0-based E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching (pp. 85-107). Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2011. Q, Wang, H. L. Woo, C. L. Quek, Y. Yang, and M. Liu, “Using the Facebook group as a learning management system: An exploratory study,” BritishJournal of Educational Technology, vol. 43, pp. 428-438, 2012. A. Sfard, “On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one,” Educational Researcher, vo. 27, pp. 4-13, 1998.
  • 19. References C. McLoughlin , and M. J. W. Lee, “Pedagogy 2.0: Critical challenges and responses to Web 2.0 and social software in tertiary teaching,” In: M. J.W. Lee and C. McLoughlin (Eds.): Web 2.0-based E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching (pp. 43-69). Hershey, PA: IGIGlobal, 2011. J. Lave, and E. Wenge. Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991. A. Hemmi, S. Bayne, and R. Landt. “The appropriation and repurposing of social technologies in higher education,” Journal of Computer AssistedLearning, vol. 25, pp. 19-30, 2009. J. P. Gee. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave, 2003. J. P. Gee. Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of traditional schooling. London: Routledge, 2004. D. S. Knowlton. “Taxonomy of learning through asynchronous discussion.” Journal of Interactive Learning Research, vol. 16, pp. 155-177, 2005. C. C. Ragin, Introduction: Cases of “What is a case?”. In: Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker (Eds.): What Is a case? Exploring the foundationsof social inquiry. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. R. E. Stake, The Art of Case Study Research. London: Sage, 1995. P. Häkkinen, and R. Hämäläinen, “Shared and personal learning spaces: Challenges for pedagogical design,” Internet and Higher Education, vol.15, pp. 231-236, 2012. J. C. Lammers, and J. S. Curwood, “Toward an affinity space methodology: Considerations for literacy research,” English Teaching: Practice andCritique, vol. 11, pp. 44-58, 2012. S. Manca, and M. Ranierit, “Is it a tool suitable for learning? A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology-enhanced learningenvironment,” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, doi: 10.1111/jcal.12007. A. Van den Beemt, S. Akkerman, and R.-J. Simons, “Considering young people’s motives for interactive media use,” Educational Research Review,vol. 6, pp. 55-66, 2011. C. Pimmer, S. Linxen, and U. Gröhbiel, “Facebook as a learning tool? A case study on appropriation of social network sites from mobile phones indeveloping countries,” British Journal of Education Technology, vol. 43, pp. 726-738, 2012.