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Facebook in education and teacher training


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"Facebook in education and teacher training" - Levinsky College of Education, Special Education Unit, 3 May 2015

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Facebook in education and teacher training

  1. 1. Facebook in education and teacher training Stefania Manca Institute of Educational Technology National Research Council of Italy Genova, Italy Levinsky College of Education, 3rd May 2015
  2. 2. ! ‫שלום‬‫לכולם‬
  3. 3. Institute of Educational Technology National Research Council of Italy ITD-CNR is the only public scientific institute in Italy entirely devoted to studying how ICT-based tools and methods can innovate learning and teaching processes. The mission of ITD is to perform research studies and technology transfer activities focusing on:  ICT as a resource for teaching/learning processes;  innovative approaches to the design, management and assessment of learning environments;  study of new educational needs and opportunities brought about by ICT.
  4. 4. Research lines at ITD-CNR  Innovation in disciplinary learning: development of environments and methods for innovative education in STEM and in the humanities (e.g. virtual and remote laboratories in science, representation and manipulation environments in mathematics; language learning; cultural heritage education).  E-inclusion: research addressing ICT-based inclusion for people with Special Education Needs: e.g. disabled, immigrants, people with learning difficulties or who are unable to participate in regular schooling.  Innovation in professional training: investigation of work-based learning. Areas of special interest include teacher training (pre/in- service), learning design and Open Educational Resources, entrepreneurship education, training in specific contexts such as medicine and digital scholarship.  New skills for the knowledge society: study of learning environments that foster the acquisition of key transversal skills such as information problem solving, computational thinking skills, communication skills, self-regulated learning skills.  Formal, informal and non-formal learning: investigation of the emergence of educational opportunities offered by social media, cloud computing, mobile systems, tangibles, etc., innovative learning modalities sustained by game based learning, mobile learning, online learning, inquiry based learning, etc., in different educational contexts of application, both formal and non/in-formal.
  5. 5. Topics of this presentation 1. Potentials and critical issues of Facebook as a technology-enhanced learning environment in education and in teacher training 2. The role of Facebook for teachers’ professional development through the analysis of five Italian FB groups of teachers 3. Social network sites for people with disabilities (research study in progress)
  6. 6. Facebook as a technology- enhanced learning environment in education and in teacher training
  7. 7. Preliminary remarks  In the last 7-8 years, thousands of papers have appeared in specialized journals and have been presented in thematic conferences in the field of education, with contrasting results in terms of the educational value of Facebook.  The focus has mainly been on students and teachers’ usage of social networking sites with a special emphasis on teacher/instructor presence and self-disclosure, students’ attitudes, impact on academic performance, appropriate professional behavior, or as a tool of professional development in lifelong learning.  However, though the literature suggests that SNS are mainly used in education as tools supporting existing social relationships and enabling the maintenance of social capital, their value as a learning environment is still questioned.
  8. 8. Contrasting views 1. On the one hand, several scholars have cautioned against using Facebook for educational purposes: the focus should move away from its educational uses and consider Facebook as an only place for socialization. 2. On the other hand, other scholars have emphasized the potential of social networking sites for learning: they would support ‘the process of building networks of information, contacts and resources that are applied to real problems’.
  9. 9. Social network sites and formal learning: a challenge The potentials offered by social network sites such as Facebook to school and formal learning represent also their major threats and challenges, since they contribute to blending The space and time for leasure, spare time and socialization with The space and time for schooling, studying and school- related issues
  10. 10. A few issues to be considered There is an increasing amount of experience whereby Facebook has been used as a unique, or at least as one, learning management system (LMS) tool, or as a platform for instructional purposes. There is a need for a better understanding of whether and eventually how to use Facebook in formal learning.
  11. 11. A critical review of the literature  A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology- enhanced learning environment was carried out in 2012, with the aim of exploring the extent to which its pedagogical potential is actually translated into practice.  Only empirical studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals with a specific focus on Facebook as a learning environment were considered for the review.  We conducted a comprehensive literature search that identified 23 relevant articles that were subsequently analysed according to a simplified list of guidelines. These articles were further analysed and recoded through a set of emerging categories.
  12. 12. Summary of results The results show that pedagogical affordances of Facebook have only been partially implemented. There are still many obstacles that may prevent a full adoption of Facebook as a learning environment such as: declared and implicit institutional policies, teacher and student pedagogies, and cultural issues.
  13. 13. Mixing information and learning resources  Facebook was mainly used as a Learning Management System, relying on the familiarity of students with SNS. When used as and/or when compared with a virtual learning environment, Facebook seems to be conceived and designed as a ‘fenced’ space to deliver content and support interactions rather than to combine different and heterogeneous sources of instructional materials. As a consequence, this affordance of blending filtered and non-filtered contents seems to be very often underestimated.  However, in some experiences the information delivered in the course was not limited to predefined contents but open to diverse sources exposing learners to a variety of inputs. In this case, the authors seem to emphasize the need for a new role of the teacher as ‘information moderator’ with an obvious impact on designing and delivering.  In other terms, in so far as the exposure to many and different types of information can enrich the learning experience but also cause an increase of cognitive load, the role of teachers should be reshaped in terms of facilitators able to guide students to navigate in the oceanic world of digital information.
  14. 14. Hybridization of expertise  There is an awareness that an open environment such as Facebook allows access to a plethora of resources usually inaccessible in closed learning systems. However, most of the learning experiences reported try to reproduce existing educational settings through the adoption of the metaphor of the classroom or lecture hall, with special attention to issues of privacy and protection of students’ identity.  The choice of consolidated pedagogies that derive from an established tradition of online and distance education that heavily relies on LMS and other virtual learning environments (VLEs) also affects many of the educational practices that are occurring on SNS. The bottom-up networked dynamics of social networks can conflict with the hierarchical top-down organization of academic institutions. This heritage affects instructional choices such as orienting towards a closed group in which each participant has a clearly defined role and a certain kind of expectations.
  15. 15. Widening context of learning  Although some authors emphasize that teachers have to change their way of teaching to accommodate their students’ social and digital practices, a number of cases pointed out that although students tend to post more on Facebook groups than in LMS environments, the majority of posts are usually related to affective communication rather than to topics relating to the themes of the course. Although appreciating the learning experience that occurred in the Facebook environment, many students still resist its full usage as a formal tool of learning, at least when it is the only tool provided.  In a way, it seems that most students have a rather traditional vision of schooling. Their implicit pedagogies still make precise distinctions between spaces and time of learning and spaces and time for socialization and entertainment. These traditional visions of schooling and formal education tend to separate ‘life’ from ‘studying’ and ‘home’ from ‘lectures’, and students’ use of Facebook consequently ‘appeared to be (un)consciously replicating and reinforcing roles developed in their previous phases” of their education.
  16. 16. Extending and systematizing these results Potentials and critical issues. A few preliminary guidelines
  17. 17. Potentials and affordances: technological Simplicity and speed of use of native tools. The basic functions of Facebook (wall, discussion boards, photos, etc.) are easy to use, accessible and intuitive. In addition, they allow users to quickly share information, create and manage work groups, etc. A high degree of external connectivity. The enormous expansion of Facebook has forced many external services to adapt to the new social philosophy of the Web 2.0 environment.
  18. 18. Potentials and affordances: pedagogical  Socialization, communication and community building. FB supports socialization among students promoting mutual help and facilitating communication and discussion. This reinforces interpersonal relationships and fosters community building, supports students’ interaction and engagement.  Sharing of resources and genuine materials. FB enhances the opportunity of sharing resources, lectures and study notes. It also allows significant content to be presented by means of genuine materials.  Social learning and collaborative activities. FB provides opportunities to develop social learning and carrying out collaborative activities and project based learning. Despite some limitations due technical aspects, its external connectivity and capacity to support open projects help manage and develop collaborative learning projects.  Mixing formal and informal contexts of learning. The inherently informal nature of FB may open the doors to the hybridization of contexts of learning with implications for the types of contents that are shared in it and the roles played by people as well. Students may have the opportunity to be exposed to authentic contents and real experts, and mix rather than separate life and learning, personal interests and educational goals.
  19. 19. Critical issues: technological  Digital divide and incomplete adoption rate. Although on a global level the technical access to the Internet has been increasingly improved, there are still people who cannot access digital technologies and social media. As a consequence there could be a sort of digital divide between students who have access to Facebook and students who do not. Moreover, despite Facebook is highly spread among college students, there are individuals who have not a profile in this social network site for different reasons such as lack of interest or of skills, they are too busy or simply do not like it.  Lack of functionalities. The way and the speed in which posts quickly appear and disappears on the wall together with the lack of a system for tagging, filtering, searching and organizing information make difficult to store information and manage the task of generating, classifying, saving and retrieving knowledge.
  20. 20. Critical issues: management Time constraints & Faculty/School workloads. Taking care of a relationship and social connections is a time- consuming activity that requires regular feedback, attention and commitment. To be active in a social network site users must engage with these behaviors and attitudes. When moving to the educational context, being an active and attentive teacher in Facebook may result in a growth of the workloads which conflicts with time constrains.
  21. 21. Critical issues: insitutional  Erosion of professional identities. Since SNS enable users to share personal information, thoughts, and behaviors, some scholars caution against the risks of accidentally sharing information to an unintended audience with negative implications for the teacher/student relationship. This can happen from student’s and teacher’s sides.  To be or not to be a Facebook friend. Some scholars pointed out that being ‘friend’ in Facebook has a different connotation from being friend in the real life. Nevertheless, the word ‘friend’ evokes an imaginary that is not appropriate for most student– teacher relationships.  Facebooking as a voluntary activity? Being an informal environment where people connect to each other for personal interests and affinities, it is pointed out that even in the cases in which FB is proposed as a learning environment, the participation in it must be kept voluntary. Teachers and educators cannot impose as compulsory the registration to the social network and they must be able to manage the possible consequences of this voluntary participation.
  22. 22. Critical issues: pedagogical  Disruptive power of social network sites. Teachers often complain that social networks divert students’ attention from classroom participation and ultimately are disruptive to the learning process. It is also underlined that an intensive use of Facebook may have a negative impact on students’ academic performance.  Losing the warmth of ‘real’ contacts. There are also concerns relating to the fact that social networks may discourage face-to-face communication: if, on one hand, online interactions may create a safe space for students who are not at ease with expressing themselves, on the other hand, students are missing the opportunity to learning real-life social skills.  Assessment strategies. The informal nature of FB as a learning environment may generate misunderstandings about whether students’ performances in FB are assessed or not. There is a need for a clear policy making students know if Facebook is used only as a repository for shared works, or if their participation in the group’s activities is also part of the set of assessment criteria.
  23. 23. Critical issues: ethical Privacy and cyber security. As well known, the Facebook personal profile includes a huge amount of identifiable information and it is believed that it can open the door to sexual predators, cyber bullying and cyber stalking.
  24. 24. A few suggestions: technological issues Ensure that all the students have an Internet access and verify whether they are registered to Facebook or not. Promote the development of teachers and students’ basic technical and social skills in order to participate effectively.
  25. 25. A few suggestions: management issues Support faculty members in the use of social media, both in terms of technological issues and of pedagogical design through best practices and training. Use Facebook as an optional tool inside and outside classes. Provide students with alternative assignments if they choose not to participate. However, if Facebook is an essential component of the learning provision discuss with students your pedagogical choice.
  26. 26. A few suggestions: institutional issues Implement institutional policies on the use of social networks in the educational environment in light of security/privacy issues, as well as faculty and student support. Do not underestimate the importance of developing a clear and negotiated view about the student-teacher relationships. Discuss with colleagues and students about roles and cultural norms, to reach a common understanding on how to manage personal and institutional life, informal and formal spaces of learning.
  27. 27. A few suggestions: pedagogical issues Use Facebook as a tool to support and facilitate informal discussions and collaborations with clear educational goals. Foster the development of self-regulation and metacognitive skills to manage potential distraction. Evaluate students’ reflections on their learning through social networking sites in the form of formative assessment, through strategies such as rubrics, portfolio, and reflections. Be aware of implicit pedagogies that inform the way in which learning activities and roles are conceived.
  28. 28. A few suggestions: ethical issues Develop students’ awareness about the security and privacy issues of posting personal information online fostering the acquisition of “social networking skills”.
  29. 29. In progress Is Facebook still a suitable technology-enhanced learning environment? An updated critical review of the literature from 2012 to 2015
  30. 30. Teachers’ professional development in online social networking sites: the case of five Italian FB groups of teachers
  31. 31. Social networking sites and professional development Social media and social networking sites are progressively gaining attention also in relation to professional development and life-long learning for school and academic teachers and staff. Social networking is indeed a fundamental aspect in developing a strong professional identity and furthering professional development. These sites are emerging as places in which to cultivate different forms of social capital, bridging and bonding, that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit, as well as exchange of resources, personal and professional relationships and implications for psychological well-being.
  32. 32. Some theoretical concepts Social capital and SNS Networks of practices and SNS
  33. 33. Social Capital and SNS  Bridging social capital = loose connections between individuals based on the exchange of useful information or new idea but no or weak emotional support  Bonding social capital = benefits that individuals may derive from emotionally close relationships, such as family and close friends, which might include emotional support or other type of assistance Although research suggests that the practice of using Facebook to maintain existing social relationships is more common than that of using it to create new connections with strangers, there is also some evidence that ‘users may use the site to convert latent into weak ties’.
  34. 34. Networks of practices and SNS  They imply a set of individuals who are connected through social relationships, whether they be strong or weak  What distinguishes a network of practice from other networks: individuals interact through information exchange in order to perform their work, asking for and sharing knowledge with each other.  In electronic networks of practice, individuals may never get to know one another or meet face-to-face, and they generally coordinate through means such as blogs, electronic mailing lists, or social media sites.
  35. 35. Preliminary remarks It seems that something like a transition from a pure form of recreational Facebooking to a new form of professional Facebooking is taking shape on the web, demanding a renewed attention to the social processes occurring in these places. To date little empirical research on the professional use of Social Network Sites (SNS) has been conducted, particularly with reference to groups of teachers on Facebook.
  36. 36. The study  In 2011-2012 an extensive survey on teachers’ groups in Facebook was conducted to investigate professional uses of informal social networks.  A questionnaire was addressed to the members of five Facebook groups (n=1107) with the aim of verifying a series of research hypotheses focused on the relationship between types groups and social exchanges, on the one hand, and types, groups and professional implications, on the other.  The study identified two typologies of groups, generic or thematic. The main goal of the generic group was the sharing of experiences related to schools in general, while the main purpose of the thematic group was focusing on a very distinctive discussion theme (e.g. dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities).
  37. 37. The five Facebook groups
  38. 38. Results • Data seem to suggest that a difference exists between the two groups in terms of types of shared social capital. Generic groups seem to be mainly characterized by bridging social capital, whereas thematic groups by bonding social capital • In generic groups SNS seems to play the role of an infrastructure enabling the activation of ‘latent ties’. In thematic groups SNS plays the role of supporting the maintenance of social capital and of existing ties • In thematic groups the direction of the movement between online/offline activities would be from offline to online, whereas in generic groups the direction is reversed, from online to offline • Groups in social networks may be meant as sub-networks delimited by virtual boundaries
  39. 39. Advantages and drawbacks Advantages Drawbacks • Construction and negotiation of professional identity • Sharing of educational practices and experiences, debate on methods and implicit pedagogies • Continuous mentoring for pre- service and novice teachers • Emotional and socio-relational support in professional life • Blending of virtual and real as a means through which to promote new collaborative projects • Blurring of personal and professional identities and difficulties related to their management • Possible control of contents by administrative staff • Digital divide related to the adoption of social networking sites for personal use • Low digital literacy skills
  40. 40. Social network sites for people with disabilities (research in progress)
  41. 41. An online survey about how persons with disabilities use social network sites We started from the following study: Shpigelman*, C.-N., & Gill**, C. J. (2014). Facebook Use by Persons with Disabilities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19, 610–624. *Department of Community Mental Health, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel **Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA
  42. 42. Aims and procedure  To explore the potentials and the critical issues related to the use of SNS by people with disabilities (physical, cognitive, sensorial, etc.)  To analyse if people with disabilities use social network sites differently when relating to their nondisabled friends and groups compared to their disabled friends and groups  To investigate issues of digital divide and of accessibility  To investigate eventual cultural and technological obstacles that may prevent use of SNS  The survey is addressed to people with disabilities that use SNS being at least 13 years old and that self-identify as disabled people  The administration of the online survey (implemented through SurveyGizmo) is still in progress
  43. 43. References  Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2013). Is it a tool suitable for learning? A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology-enhanced learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29 (6), 487-504.  Manca, S., Ranieri, M. (2013). Identity, Credibility, and Trust in Social Networking Sites: Old Issues, New Mechanisms, and Current Challenges for Privacy and Security. In L. Caviglione, M. Coccoli, A. Merlo (Eds). Social Network Engineering for Secure Web Data and Services (pp. 5- 31). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.  Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2014). Does Facebook provide educational value? An overview of theoretical and empirical advancements of affordances and critical issues. In G. Mallia (Ed.). The Social Classroom: Integrating Social Network Use in Education (pp. 312-338). Hershey, PA. IGI Global.  Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (submitted). Facebook and the Others. Potentials and obstacles of Social Media for teaching in higher education. Computers & Education.  Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (submitted). “Yes for Sharing, No for Teaching!”: Social Media in Academic Practices. The Internet and Higher Education.  Ranieri, M., & Manca, S. (2013). I social network nell’educazione. Basi teoriche, modelli applicativi e linee guida. Erickson, Trento (in Italian)  Ranieri, M., Manca, S., & Fini, A. (2012). Why (and how) do teachers engage in social networks? An exploratory study of professional use of Facebook and its implications for lifelong learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43 (5), 754-769.
  44. 44. ! ‫תודה‬‫רבה‬ Stefania Manca ITD-CNR, Italy