Students divided into two groups that met on alternating days
Facebook search “UWMEnglish102”
Asynchronous Discussion Forums
Four online, asynchronous discussion forums
Two in Facebook
Two in Desire2Learn
Two groups of 12 students
Alternated between FB and D2L
Discuss scholarly and popular articles
Discuss a sample student portfolio
Discuss course goals
Asynchronous Discussion Forums
Required 250+ word initial post and two 125+ word responses
Instructor presence purposefully waned as the semester progressed
Students could opt-out and join the D2L group or write an equivalent essay
Why experiment with the Facebook discussion tool?
Meet students “where they live”
Expand beyond instructor-driven site to create a peer network for research
Coordinate more dynamic and engaging online conversations
No qualitative difference between student responses in Facebook and D2L
Discussions were no better, but no worse
Students did not seem to participate more on the Facebook site
Facebook application shortcomings
Lack of threaded discussion
Lack of gradebook and rubric integration
Lack of ability to rearrange forums
Lack of “__ per page” function
Lack of export function for in-class use
Lack of support and sustainability
Need to solicit student feedback
Experiment with other types of forums?
Synchronous, in-class Facebook discussion
Michael Wesch’s “The Machine is Us/ing Us”
This study: Part II
23 students, graduate
K-12 teachers, librarians, info techs
Why Social Media?
Reach beyond the classroom
Interact with “experts”
Developing a PLN via social media
Find people you want to know
Expand the surface area – explore!
See also Jane Bozarth (2010)
Stages of the Learning Experience in a Connectivist Environment (adapted from Pettenati & Cigognini, 2007)
Select a social media tool
Started with ~4 resources
Expand network – 20+ people/ideas
Reflection (Herring, Oliver, & Reeves, 2003)
Instructor role = “informed co-traveler” (Dron & Anderson, 2009).
How do students make connections/PLNs?
How do students use social media in a course?
For an online course…
What are the positives?
What are the negatives?
Social Media & PLNs: Findings
Connectivism and Student ’s PLNs
Students ’ Network Connections
Student Reactions: Positive
Enthusiastic (e.g., blogs)
“ Technology is not just something that teachers and administrators work into their curriculum when they find the time or expertise needed. It is an essential part of our world today.”
Technology = instant access to information
“ Schools cannot lead students to believe technology is bad and forbid its use. It’s our job to teach them the educational benefits.”
Student Reactions: Negative
Non-linear, “uncourse” (Hirst, 2009)
“ I was eager to try Twitter because everyone else has, so why shouldn’t I…Then, a few days passed and I became literally scared to open the site.”
Quality & self-promotion
“ I find it hard to believe that so many people continue to follow contributors who so often self-congratulate, plead for support for online awards, or make frequent reference to their availability for hire as a consultant or guest speaker.”
Final Student Comments
“ We’re not going to be replaced by machines, but individual teachers will, I believe, be replaced by communities of learners. In those communities everyone will be a teacher and everyone will be a learner. We might not even distinguish between them.”
“ I feel optimistic a paradigm shift is happening in education.”
What do students contribute to their PLN?
How do students create connections? What is their path?
What device(s) do students use to create connections?