One Day Seminar at CLTT                                                  University of British Columbia –                 ...
Preliminary remarksIt seems that something like a transition from a pureform of recreational Facebooking to a new form ofp...
Aims and purposesTo explore the nature of professional Facebooking, i.e.the use of Facebook for professional purposes (fro...
Theoretical Framework (1)       Social Capital Theory (SCT) and SNS studies3.Bridging social capital = loose connections b...
Theoretical Framework (2)           Studies on online communities and         “social learning” in professional contextsRe...
Theoretical Framework (3)Learning as a process of participation in a community of practice(Wenger, 1998) where three struc...
Provisional Framework of AnalysisA working hypothesis is to assimilate them to Networks of Practice (NoP)(Brown & Duguid, ...
Research question (1)Domain: how does the domain (and particularly the  way in which it is approached) impact on group  me...
Research question (2)Network: does it make sense to distinguish between  different types of participatory attitudes and  b...
Research question (3)Practice: does engagement with a group of   professionals sharing practices have an impact on   ‘real...
Research designStudy 1 : Exploratory study addressed to managers of 5   Facebook professional groupsStudy 2 : A wider surv...
Sample                                                            RespondentsGroup          Group type          Foundation...
MethodBoth studies were administered by online questionnairesmanaged by Google DocsStudy 1 aimed at investigating the soci...
Findings from Study 1                         Facebook group managers•Gender: all females•Age: more than 40 years•Educatio...
Findings from Study 2                   Facebook group members                                                     N (%)  ...
Findings from Study 2                 Answers to Research Question 11) Is there a relation between the group typology (gen...
Findings from Study 2                 Answers to Research Question 22) Is there a relation between seniority in a group an...
Findings from Study 2                  Answers to Research Question 33) Is there a relation between seniority in a group a...
Discussion• In the light of social capital theory, these data seem to suggest that a  difference exists between the two gr...
Conclusions• Although SNS may have an impact on bridging social capital outcomes, there are  some differences between Face...
Future developments   Elements that would deserve further investigation:•To develop the understanding of the complex “onto...
Main references•   boyd, d., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal ...
One Day Seminar at CLTT                                                      University of British Columbia –             ...
Motivations and dynamics of teachers’ engagement in social networks’ groups. A case study of professional Facebooking
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Motivations and dynamics of teachers’ engagement in social networks’ groups. A case study of professional Facebooking

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Presentation made on 16th April 2012, during the STELLAR-SoMobNet One Day Seminar at CLTT, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The presented research is based on Ranieri M., Manca S., Fini A. (under review). Why (and how) do teachers engage in social networks’ groups? An exploratory study on professional Facebooking and its implications for lifelong learning. Submitted to the British Journal of Educational Technology

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Motivations and dynamics of teachers’ engagement in social networks’ groups. A case study of professional Facebooking

  1. 1. One Day Seminar at CLTT University of British Columbia – Vancouver (CA) – April 16, 2012Motivations and dynamics of teachers’engagement in social networks’ groups. A case study of professional Facebooking Stefania Manca Institute of Educational Technology - CNR, Genoa, Italy With Maria Ranieri and Antonio Fini, University of Florence, Italy
  2. 2. Preliminary remarksIt seems that something like a transition from a pureform of recreational Facebooking to a new form ofprofessional Facebooking is taking shape on the web,demanding a renewed attention to the social processesoccurring in these places. To date little empiricalresearch on the professional use of Social Network Sites(SNS) has been conducted, particularly with referenceto groups of teachers on Facebook.
  3. 3. Aims and purposesTo explore the nature of professional Facebooking, i.e.the use of Facebook for professional purposes (fromexchanging work-related information and resources toget in contact with people working in the same (orsimilar field) and, in particular, the motivations anddynamics of professional groups in Facebook.
  4. 4. Theoretical Framework (1) Social Capital Theory (SCT) and SNS studies3.Bridging social capital = loose connections between individuals basedon the exchange of useful information or new idea but not emotionalsupport2. Bonding social capital = benefits that individuals may derive fromemotionally close relationships, such as family and close friends, whichmight include emotional support or other type of assistanceAlthough research suggests that the practice of using Facebook tomaintain existing social relationships is more common than that ofusing it to create new connections with strangers, there is also someevidence that ‘users may use the site to convert latent into weak ties’(Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe, 2011).
  5. 5. Theoretical Framework (2) Studies on online communities and “social learning” in professional contextsRecent analyses of the concept of online communities underline thatdifferent types of socio-technical entities are now living in the webspace giving rise to a complex ontology which goes beyond the uniquenotion of online community:•Community vs. Collective (Thomas & Brown, 2011)•Crowds vs. Communities (Haythornthwaite, 2011)
  6. 6. Theoretical Framework (3)Learning as a process of participation in a community of practice(Wenger, 1998) where three structural elements become crucial:(3)domain – a CoP is not merely a group of friends, but has anidentity defined by a shared domain of interest;(4)community – in pursuing their interest in their domain, membersengage in joint activities (discussion, mutual help, sharinginformation) that bind them together into a social group;(5)practice – a CoP is not merely a group of people who like certainbooks, for instance; rather, they develop a shared repertoire ofresources (i.e. experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressingrecurring problems).
  7. 7. Provisional Framework of AnalysisA working hypothesis is to assimilate them to Networks of Practice (NoP)(Brown & Duguid, 2000), which are characterized by the followingdimensions:•Domain•Network•PracticeWhere communities of practice typically consist of strong ties linkingindividuals engaged in a shared practice who typically interact in face-to-facesituations, electronic networks of practice consist of weak ties.Facebook, and other SNSs, also includes features which allow people to createnew connections, whose nature may be better described through theconstruct of latent ties, defined by Haythornethwaite (2005) as connectionswhich are ‘technically possible but not yet activated socially’.
  8. 8. Research question (1)Domain: how does the domain (and particularly the way in which it is approached) impact on group membership?In particular:Is there a relation between the group typology (generic/thematic) and the group membership, i.e. how the group is characterized with regard to reasons to join, membership rules, type of content/ discussions within it?
  9. 9. Research question (2)Network: does it make sense to distinguish between different types of participatory attitudes and behaviours, involving different levels of engagement in the group?In particular:Is there a relation between seniority in a group and participation habits?
  10. 10. Research question (3)Practice: does engagement with a group of professionals sharing practices have an impact on ‘real life’ and professional development?In particular:Is there a relation between seniority in a group and effects on professional life? Is there also a relation between these effects and the group typology (generic/thematic)?
  11. 11. Research designStudy 1 : Exploratory study addressed to managers of 5 Facebook professional groupsStudy 2 : A wider survey addressed to the participants of 5 Facebook professional groups (n=1107)
  12. 12. Sample RespondentsGroup Group type Foundation Group size* (% of group size)A Generic 2010 1532 259 (16.9%)B Generic 2011 698 92 (13.2%)C Thematic 2009 746 125 (16.8%)D Thematic 2011 1079 334 (31.0%)E Thematic 2009 1510 297 (19.7%)*Group size on 28 December 2011.
  13. 13. MethodBoth studies were administered by online questionnairesmanaged by Google DocsStudy 1 aimed at investigating the socio-demographic data of thefounders/administrators, the characteristics of groups andbehaviours related to group management  September–October 2011Study 2 intended to explore socio-demographic data, use of andhabits related to digital technologies, and participation inFacebook groups  December 2011–January 2012
  14. 14. Findings from Study 1 Facebook group managers•Gender: all females•Age: more than 40 years•Educational background: 4/5 have a university degree•Job: teachers•ICTs use: all have used PC and the Internet since more than 10 years, Facebookprofile: 3/5 more than 3 years, 3/5 use mobile devices to access it•Reasons for founding the group: • ethical-social: social media represents ‘the future for free and active citizenship’ • participation: these devices would increase participation and improve the process of sharing information and resources • professional: the group can provide its members by offering tips, suggestions and comments on specific topics • personal: some of them founded their group out of curiosity, or in order to understand how social networks work, their advantages, the relational dynamics they activate, etc.
  15. 15. Findings from Study 2 Facebook group members N (%) Male 185 (16.7%)Gender Female 922 (83.3%) Less than 29 105 (9.5%) 30–39 260 (23.5%)Age 40–49 404 (36.5%) 50–59 294 (26.6%) More than 60 44 (4.0%) Educational professionals 769 (69.5%) Social and health 94 (8.5%)Occupation professionals Parents 84 (7.6%) Other 160 (14.5%) Less than 1 year 566 (51.1%)Seniority in the group More than 1 year 541 (48.9%)
  16. 16. Findings from Study 2 Answers to Research Question 11) Is there a relation between the group typology (generic/thematic) and the group membership?• Sharing ideas and projects seem to be more important for those who subscribe to a generic group, whereas strong adherence to the main topic of the group and the need to belong in order to feel less alone seems to matter most for those who join a thematic group• More proactive behaviours are the basis of the choices made by those who subscribe to a thematic group• Sharing of professional content or topics of current interest are equally distributed in the two groups, while expressions of feelings and sharing personal experiences seem to count more for thematic groups
  17. 17. Findings from Study 2 Answers to Research Question 22) Is there a relation between seniority in a group and participationhabits?•The frequency with which members access the group is higher amongthe senior members, who also show more active participation than thejunior members•Senior members base their trust in other members primarily on theirpersonal acquaintance and on approval by other members. For thesemembers, legitimation of shared resources in the group relies mostlyon the reputation of the author of the resource
  18. 18. Findings from Study 2 Answers to Research Question 33) Is there a relation between seniority in a group and effects onprofessional life? Is there also a relation between these effects and thegroup typology (generic/thematic)?•There is no significant correlation between seniority and benefits ofgroup membership•Members of the generic groups report a greater impact of the virtualactivity on their real life in professional terms (i.e. new projects)
  19. 19. Discussion• In the light of social capital theory, these 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
  20. 20. Conclusions• Although SNS may have an impact on bridging social capital outcomes, there are some differences between Facebook groups in terms of types of shared resources (i.e. information or information and emotional support) and types of relationships (i.e. activation of ‘latent ties’ and maintenance of social capital)• The notion of ‘Legitimate Peripheral Participation’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991) may help to understand why senior members show more active and confident behaviours compared to junior participants• Our results partially disconfirms the widely accepted thesis according to which SNS are more often used to articulate previously established relationships (e.g. boyd & Ellison, 2007). Facebook groups seemed to be used particularly in the direction of generating new offline projects• Further studies should be conducted to explore both the qualitative nature of the social capital shared in these groups and how the dimension of shared practice in terms of memory group is constructed and maintained (e.g. through Learning and Knowledge Analytics tools)
  21. 21. Future developments Elements that would deserve further investigation:•To develop the understanding of the complex “ontology” nowemerging from the web: groups, communities, networks,collectives, crowds… what else?•The tacit mechanisms of participation: What kind of implicitrules? Spontaneous or «directed» self-management groups?•The need of a group memory: How to cultivate and storage it?
  22. 22. Main references• boyd, d., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13 (1), 210–230.• Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The Social Life of Information. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.• Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook ‘friends’: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12 (4), 1143–1168.• Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2011). Connection strategies: Social capital implications of Facebook-enabled communication practices. New Media & Society, 13 (6), 873– 892.• Haythornthwaite, C. (2005). Social networks and Internet connectivity effects. Information, Communication & Society, 8, 125–147.• Haythornthwaite, C. (2011). Online knowledge crowds and communities. In Knowledge Communities. Reno, NV: Center for Basque Studies.• Lave J., Wenger E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.• Park, N., Kee, K., & Valenzuela, S. (2009). Being immersed in social networking environment: Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12 (6), 729–733.• Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. CreateSpace.• Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning and Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  23. 23. One Day Seminar at CLTT University of British Columbia – Vancouver (CA) – April 16, 2012 Thanks! For contacts:Stefania Manca, ITD-CNR, Italy, manca@itd.cnr.itMaria Ranieri, University of Florence, Italy, maria.ranieri@unifi.itAntonio Fini, University of Florence, Italy, antonio.fini@gmail.com

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