Use of One Facebook Application - “Courses”


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This study examined students’ perception and experiences on use of one Facebook courseware application called as Courses.

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Use of One Facebook Application - “Courses”

  1. 1. Use of One Facebook Application - “Courses”: CEIT Students Perception and Experiences Zülfü GENÇ University of Fırat, ELAZIG, TURKEY ABSTRACT: Facebook is one of the most fast growing and popular social network site amongall university students. This study examined students’ perception and experiences on use of one Facebookcourseware application called as Courses. In this research, a quantitative method was used. Students’perception and experiences from application with instructional, usability and social communicationfeatures were collected via online Facebook Application Experience Survey. From the analysis of data, itis clear that preservice teacher liked this application in their courses and “Courses” fulfilled theirinstructional needs, even though they ask for some alterations.Keywords: Social networking sites, Facebook applications, Courses application, Facebook in education1. INTRODUCTION Web 2.0 is a web technology which provides online collaboration and participation among web users.This service enables dispersed users to create sharing points over the Web 2.0 applications. Web 2.0technologies, and especially social networking sites (SNS) have a extremely pressure on the life ofmillions of students (Stamford, 2007), leading many educators to wonder what role, if any, socialnetworking could have in education (Joly, 2007). The 2008 Horizon Report, released by the New MediaConsortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative suggests that educators should develop strategies toutilize social networking for educational purposes (New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE, 2008). Facebook is a large SNS that boasts more than 400 million members, and it is one of the fastest-growing and best-known sites on the Internet today. Also it is the social networking site of choice formost college students and faculty members (Schroeder & Greenbowe, 2009). Members can create easilyprofiles about themselves, create and join groups with other members, make friends, and share opinion,pictures and messages. In addition, Facebook is equipped with many downloadable applications thatmake it suitable to educational purposes. These applications have provided additional functionality andincreased interactivity to the users of Facebook. Due to the high usage rates and technological advantagesof Facebook, it can provide an alternative environment with several educational benefits to both teachersand students (Munoz & Towner, 2009). Recent investigation have pointed out that Facebook can providepositive effect on the student-to-student and student-to-teacher relationship and lend to a morecomfortable classroom climate (Mazer et al., 2007). Other studies have supported that concept of usingsocial network sites in education. One study found that 39% of college students surveyed wanted regularon-line discussions with faculty (Fischman, 2008) and most (66%) of students (n=176) surveyed inanother study were comfortable with faculty on Facebook (Hewitt & Forte, 2006). 1.1. Courseware Application in Facebook A detailed example of educational use of Facebook is presented in this study. In the 2009-2010 Fallsemester, four undergraduate courses which are Information Technology in Education I, InternetProgramming, Web Design, and Computer Ethics and one graduate course which is Changing Educationand New Technologies were offered to the students on Facebook courseware application (called asCourses) in Fırat University, Faculty of Education, Department of Computer Education and InstructionalTechnology. Courses which is given Figure 1 has a number of functions including mainly theorganization of the courses, forming student groups, sharing the course documents, adding theannouncements, creating discussion boards, and etc.Figure 1: Courses Application
  2. 2. 1.2. The Utilization of the Application After the Courses application is added to the profile by the lecturer, the creation of the course shouldbe completed by carrying out the procedure in three steps. Firstly, after deciding if the course will beaccessible for all Facebook users (public) or just the identified users (private), the academic year and thesemester should be defined. In the second step, the information about the name of the course, the lecturer,the place of the course, the day and hour for the course is described. In the last step, the lecturer confirmsthe course creation. 1.3. Lecturer Interface and Functions Lecturer interface in Figure 2 consists of five tabs which are Home, Courses, Schedule, Friends, andSettings and four main sections which are Course Info, Classmates, Upcoming Coursework and What’sUp. Access from Home tab to My User and My Instructor pages, from Schedule to detailed calendarillustration, from Courses to the interfaces of the related courses and from Settings to all setting functionsof the application are possible. The information about the lecturer of the selected course, the profile photoand class hours can be found in the Course Info section. The lecturer can manage the basic courseinformation such as adding and removing a lecturer, cancelling the course, changing the course date andhour. In the Classmates section, one can see the students taking the course and their photos. When youclick on the photos of the students, you can jump to their Facebook pages. This section has the functionsof forming groups in class, sending and receiving messages visually, seeing all the students, sending aninvitation to a new student. In Upcoming Coursework section, by clicking on the activity-attachmentbutton, detailed information can be got about an article, an exam, a problem, an argument, a project, alaboratory work and other activities which will occur in a close time. In What’s Up section, there are threetabs which are Announcements, Attachments and Discussions. It is possible to make announcementsabout the course by using the Announcements tab, to load files pertaining to the course by using theAttachments tab and to initiate a discussion or ask a question by using the Discussions tab.Figure 2: Lecturer Interface
  3. 3. 1.4. Student Interface and Functions The Student Interface in Course Application is same with the lecturer interface in Fig.2. There is afunctional difference in that Course Info and Upcoming Coursework sections are used only for gettinginformation by students. By using the Classmates section, students can see their friends who are takingthe same course, send and receive messages and talk visually with their friends in the student groups. Thestudent can access to the content of Announcements, Attachments, Discussions sections and benefit fromthe functions like reading, attaching a new announcement, loading the course documents on their owncomputers, loading files, reading the discussions and writing comments about them actively by usingthese tabs.2. METHOD The researcher developed an instrument in the form of a survey for assessing the usability of theFacebook application called “Courses”. This study includes not only results of this instrument but also thedevelopment of the instrument. The developed survey was checked by subject matter experts and Turkishlanguage experts. Since it is a none-experimental study, the instrument was offered preservice teachers tofill it voluntarily manner. Basic demographic information about participants was tabulated in Table 1.This study focuses on the preservice teachers of Computer Education and Instructional Technologydepartment of Fırat University (n=203, 90 female and 113 male).Table 1: Basic Demographics of Participants Having a PC Gender Grade Level 1 2 3 4 Master TotalPC with Internet Gender Female 24 0 15 7 4 50 Male 14 0 26 11 6 57 Total 38 0 41 18 10 107PC without internet Gender Female 9 0 14 3 0 26 Male 10 4 16 6 0 36 Total 19 4 30 9 0 62No PC Gender Female 12 0 2 0 0 14 Male 16 0 2 2 0 20 Total 28 0 4 2 0 343. FINDINGS After basic demographical information, the preservice teachers were asked how they perceivethemselves about their professional level of using computers. Among five predefined levels, half of theparticipants chose “moderate level” (n=111) of expertise. The rest of the participants could besummarized namely as; “good level” (n=52), “novice level” (n=24), “expert level” (n=11), and “beginnerlevel” (n=5). Moreover, the preservice teachers were given three questions about Facebook with theoptions of “Yes” and “No” (Table 2). Only a small number of students didn’t have a Facebook accountearlier than using this application, whereas most of the students want to use such applications in thefuture.Table 2: Yes-No answered questions Items Yes No TotalBefore you use “Courses” application, do you have an account on Facebook? 166 37 203Before you use “Courses” application, do you have your “instructor” as a friend on 89 11 203your Facebook account? 4Do you want to use Facebook applications like “Courses” in your courses? 168 35 203 The latter question offered eight functions of “Courses” application to preservice teachers to choosewhich one(s) of the functions they used in their courses (Table 3). As Table 3 shows, the preservice
  4. 4. teachers were mostly the passive users of the application whom download files and read theannouncements.Table 3: Functions of "Courses" application and their frequency of use Name of the Function n Name of the Function n Upload a file 53 Add an announcement 29 Download a file 174 Read the announcement 149 Open a discussion 50 Messaging with my classmates 87 Join a discussion 71 Study groups 88 The preservice teachers were given twenty-two questions on their perceptions and experiences about“Courses” application in Facebook as an instructional media in their courses. Participants asked to statetheir agreement level on a five point Likert scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. Initially , a factor analysis implemented on twenty-two items starting checking for data adequacy forthe analysis. On this data set, the KMO coefficient was found .91 and the approximate Χ 2 (153, n=203) isequal to 1765,039, p<.000. Since the test results were satisfactory, the data were taken to factor analysis.The dimensionality of the twenty-two items were analyzed using principal component exploratory factoranalysis. Four criteria were used to conclude the number of factors to rotate: the a priori hypothesismeasuring the unidimensional, the Cattell scree test, the variance explained and the interpretability of thefactor solution. The scree pilot indicated that the initial unidimensionality hypothesis was false and therewere several breaking points on the graph. Initial solution created four factors and several overlappingeigenvalues. Therefore, items which appeared on more than one factor with a less than 0.100 eigenvaluedifference were dismissed from the analysis and factor analysis re-run for several times. At the end offactor analysis, four (10, 18, 20 and 22) items were deleted from the survey. The resting eighteen itemswere distributed on three exploratory factors using a Varimax rotation procedure which fulfilled theinterpretability and total variance explained (58.47 %) criterion. The researcher named the factors as; factor 1: Application with instructional features, factor 2:Application with usability features, and factor 3: Application with social communication features. At theend of the factor analysis, eighteen items were checked for its reliability creating satisfactory level ofCronbach coefficient (α=.90). Additionally, in order to compare how much reliability had affected bydeletion of four items, another reliability analyses conducted with all twenty-two items (α=.93). From theanalysis, it was found that by the deletion four items, the general reliability had affected 0,03 percent.Moreover, three sub factors were checked for their reliability coefficients. It was found that all three subfactor yielded a satisfactory level of reliability. Factor 1 (with nine items) was 0.89, Factor 2 (with fiveitems) was .76 and Factor 3 (with four items) was .78. Table 4 summarizes the items, their numbers in the survey, the factor they belong and their meanscores with standard deviations. For better understanding, items were written as their original forms inTurkish and their translation versions of English. It is remark that since the survey was online, the preservice teachers had a chance of looking at “Courses” application as filling thesurvey. From Table 4, it was observed that the preservice teacher liked this application utilization in theircourses, even though they ask for some alterations. In subsequent to factor analysis and basic statistics, independent sample t-test was conducted in thedata set to see whether or not gender makes a different on the items. Table 5 demonstrates that six itemssignificantly differs on gender variable. For all six items, female participants have higher mean scoresthan male participants. The last question was an open-ended question asking about what changes they might offer to makethe “Courses” application more useful. All students answered this question and answers were clusteredaround the following points;  More seductive for students,  Sending simultaneous emails about changes in the application,  Increasing file upload size,  Adding more instructional objects, such as games,  Different language options, especially Turkish,  Adding chat feature inside of application,  Supporting more video file format,  Better visual design,  Better application loading speed,
  5. 5.  More customizable structure,  More control on addition and/or deletion of application objects,  Better embedding into Facebook.Table 4: Mean scores and standard deviations on items Item Factor M. S.D. Items Number NumberIt was beneficial to see the course instructor information in 3,7 1 1 0,96“Courses Info” section. 2It was beneficial to see the course information in “Courses 4,1 2 1 1,06Info” section. 0It was beneficial to see the exam information in “Upcoming 4,1 3 1 1,02Coursework” section. 3It was good to messaging with my classroom friends in 3,5 4 3 1,03“Classmates” section. 2I liked group work in “study groups” in “Classmates” section. 3,4 5 3 1,02 0It was beneficial to read instructor announcements in 3,9 6 1 1,06“Announcements” tab of “Whats Up” section. 3I used most of the course documents in “Add In” tab of “Whats 3,9 7 1 1,16Up” section. 4The course documents in “Attachments” tab of “Whats Up” 4,0 8 1 0,97section were suitable with course objectives. 0The discussion topics in “Discussions” tab of “Whats Up” 3,3 9 3 1,04section were beneficial. 5The design of “Courses” application was good from aesthetic 3,0 11 2 1,12perspective. 7I didn’t have any technical problem while I was using 3,1 12 2 1,21“Courses” application. 8In general, it was easy to use “Courses” application. 3,3 13 2 1,17 0In general, I was satisfied with “Courses” application. 3,6 14 2 1,02 1I wish to see any changes in “Courses” application on my 3,9 15 1 1,12Facebook wall. 7I wish to be informed via email about any changes in 3,9 16 1 1,17“Courses” application. 9I prefer another Facebook application with better features. 3,7 17 1 1,12 6With “Courses”, I communicated effectively with my 3,2 19 3 1,08classmates. 4 “Courses” fulfilled my instructional needs. 3,2 21 2 1,06 6Table 5: The independent sample t-test on items Item Gender n M t p7. I used most of the course documents in “Add In” tab of “Whats Female 4,1 90Up” section. 5 2.41 0.017 Male 11 3,7 6 3 613. In general, it was easy to use “Courses” application. Female 3,5 90 8 3.13 0.002 Male 11 3,0 3 3 7
  6. 6. 15. I wish to see any changes in “Courses” application on my Female 4,1 90Facebook wall. 8 2.50 0.013 Male 11 3,7 0 3 916. I wish to be informed via email about any changes in Female 4,2 90“Courses” application. 0 2.24 0.026 Male 11 3,8 7 3 319. With “Courses”, I communicated effectively with my Female 3,4 90classmates. 1 1.99 0.047 Male 11 3,1 8 3 021. “Courses” fulfilled my instructional needs. Female 3,4 90 6 2.49 0.013 Male 11 3,0 7 3 94. DISCUSSION It is obvious that both the instructor and the student might benefit from Facebook’s networking andsocial communication capabilities such as providing an alternative to the traditional lecture format,creating an online classroom community, and increasing teacher-student and student-student interaction.The widespread use of Facebook encourages many companies to develop web applications for Facebook.Blackboard, which is one of the leading Learning Management Systems (LMS) of the education sector, isin search of solutions to use its applications in Facebook and this gives a clue about the efficiency ofFacebook. Courses Application which is summarized above is perceived as a small scale LMS although ithas many limitations.Advantages:  It is easy to use  It helps to gather all students in one platform and make organizations  It facilitates the communication between lecturer – student and student – student  It enhances the collaboration between student groups  It provides the share of the lecture notes  It permits discussions in class  It helps the students to be informed about all the topical announcementsLimitations:  The obligation to connect in order to see instant messages and announcements.  1 MB size limit for attachments  The lecturer cannot step in the announcements written by the students and discussions.  The lack of permission to remove a student from Classmates list once he/she has been added accidentally  Although there is a video chatting feature, it is not usable.REFERENCESFischman, J. (2008). Dear Professor, students want to chat with you. The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 13. Retrieved on March 29, 2010 from professor-students-want-to-chat-with-youHewitt, A. & Forte, A. (2006). Crossing boundaries: Identity management and student/faculty relationships on the Facebook. Computer Supported Cooperative Work Conference, Banff, Alberta, Canada.Joly, K. (2007). Facebook, MySpace, and Co.: IHEs ponder whether or not to embrace social networking sites, University Business, April. Retrieved on Feb 20, 2010 from
  7. 7. Mazer, J. P., Murphy, R.E., & Simonds, C. J. (2007). I’ll see you on ‘Facebook’: The effects of computer- mediated teacher self-disclosure on student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate. Communication Education, 56, 1-17Munoz, C. & Towner, T. (2009). Opening Facebook: How to use Facebook in the college classroom. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2623-2627). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008). The Horizon Report, 2008 edition. The New Media Consortium. Retrieved on Feb 20, 2010 from, J., & Greenbowe, T., J. (2009). The chemistry of Facebook: Using social networking to create an online community for the organic chemistry laboratory export. Innovate Journal of Online Education, Vol. 5, No. 4. Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.Stamford, Conn. (2007). Many college professors see podcasts, blogs and social networking sites as a potential teaching tool. CENGAGE Learning, May 7. Retrieved on Feb 20, 2010, from