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Use of Facebook for Teaching and Learning - Engaging students in online social spaces


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This session comprises of two complementary papers to inform discussion on whether Facebook can and should be used to support teaching and learning. We focus particularly on the way Facebook groups could be used for
sustaining learning beyond the classroom and discuss the role of the tutor within such online spaces. The themes presented may apply to other forms of communication and interaction where students are asked to use third-party
online tools for learning that are not controlled by the institution. Presented at the University of York Learning and Teaching Conference 2012. Annotated slides available at

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Use of Facebook for Teaching and Learning - Engaging students in online social spaces

  1. 1. Engaging students in online social spaces Experiences using Facebook for teaching and learning Learning and Teaching Conference, University of York, 16 May 2012 Aniela Wenham and Matt Cornock Department of Social Policy and Social Work
  2. 2. CHALLENGES AND CONSTRAINTS © 2012 University of York
  3. 3. Learning model: share and discuss Students providing links to resources with explanation Comments from students on the resources Tutor to guide and provoke discussion Collective discussion and meaningmaking © 2012 University of York
  4. 4. Risks of Social Networking Sites (SNS) Privacy and online profile Group dynamic and educational impact • • • • • • • • Persistence Searchability Replicability Invisible audiences Boyd (2007) © 2012 University of York Divided opinion Identity and exclusion Monitoring vs moderation Participation vs lurking Selwyn (2009); Peachey (2009)
  5. 5. Social vs academic spaces • • • • Construction of an ‘online’ identity Importance of the ‘friend’ and network Informal vs formal learning spaces Blurring of work/social space Thorpe (2008); Madge, et al (2009) © 2012 University of York
  6. 6. Shifting boundaries Personal Professional © 2012 University of York
  7. 7. Sliding scale of acceptability SNS ‘friends’ Posting personal status updates Posting links to educational stuff Posting/ commenting on a profile Posting photos of social activities Posting photos of professional activities Too personal Human credibility Authority figure Contact via institutional email Contact via messaging Impersonal contact (notifications) Based on Selwyn (2009); Johnson (2011) © 2012 University of York
  8. 8. Use of Facebook Our survey of Year 1 students, Week 1, Autumn Term RR 58% (42/73) Only 33% think that FB could be used as an online communication/ collaboration for teaching and learning activities Explained learning technologies role in degree courses as introduction 45% said ‘no’ The rest ‘don’t know’ 1 in 3 students wanted training on ‘managing online identity’ 93% students use Facebook Could this imply more confidence with privacy would lead to more accepted use of FB for T&L? Comparable figures in Madge (2009); Selwyn (2009); Smith and Caruso (2010) © 2012 University of York
  9. 9. Approach • Closed – requires admin approval • ‘Fake’ account for tutor – Technically against Facebook T&C • Privacy guidance for students – YouTube video and PDF guide • Provision of an alternative activity © 2012 University of York
  10. 10. USING FACEBOOK © 2012 University of York
  11. 11. Rationale • Cross-institution discussion space – Not possible behind VLE log in – Space continues after module • Utilises a tool already in high use by students • Not confined to the classroom/timetable © 2012 University of York
  12. 12. Modules • Children, Young People and Social Policy 2nd Year Module Option – Support for Young People in Times of Austerity • Gender and Youth Cultures 3rd Year Module Option – Group exploration of masculinity and femininity, identities and youth © 2012 University of York
  13. 13. Lessons learnt Tutor attitude • Tutor requires relaxed approach • Awareness of an uncontrolled space • Maintain boundaries Group facilitation • Groups have self-defined parameters/self-moderating • Requires ice-breaker activity (clique-breaker) • Individual sense of what is acceptable © 2012 University of York
  14. 14. Supporting material © 2012 University of York
  15. 15. End of module survey How did you use the Facebook Group? Preference for online group discussion space 8 6 4 2 0 8 6 4 2 I posted RR 41% [11/27] I I didn't use viewed, but at all didn't post 0 © 2012 University of York Facebook group VLE blog Don't know
  16. 16. References • • • • • • • Boyd, D. (2007) ‘Social Network Sites: Public, Private or What?’, The Knowledge Tree. Available online at (accessed 8 May 2012) Johnson, K. A. (2011) ‘The effect of Twitter posts on students' perceptions of instructor credibility’, Learning, Media and Technology, 36(1), 21-38. Madge, C., et al. (2009) ‘Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: ‘It is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work’’, Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 141-155. Peachey, A. (2009) ‘Living In Immaterial Worlds: Who are we when we learn and teach in virtual worlds?’ in Sheehy, K., Ferguson, R. and Clough, G. (eds) Virtual Worlds: Controversies At The Frontier Of Education. Nova Science Publishers. Selwyn, N. (2009) ‘Faceworking: exploring students’ education-related use of Facebook’, Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 157-174. Smith, S.D. and Caruso, J.B. (2010) ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010 (Research Study 6), Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Available online at (accessed 8 May 2012). Thorpe, M. (2008) ‘Technology-mediated learning contexts’ in Edwards, R., Biesta, G. And Thorpe, M. (eds) Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching. Abingdon: Routledge. 119-132. © 2012 University of York