Facebook as an “interactive learning resource”?

For those interested in using Facebook with students the following links may be of use:

  1. Stephen Heppell: Using Facebook in the Classroom

Here Stephen writes with his daughter Juliette Heppell, herself a teacher at Lampton Academy in London, and this short page outlines the main events on using Facebook with students, and the do/ don’t mentality we all ought to consider. Examples include:

  • Do … build a separate teacher page for your “teacher” presence.
  • Do … keep your teacher and personal page very separate
  • Do … post pictures of school/lessons/trips – even diagrams you put on the board (snap them with your phone and post them) – it reminds students that you are there, generates a pride in the school and reminds them that this is not a vaccuous space!
  • Don’t … ‘friend’ students yourself – not even as your “teacher” presence.
  • Don’t … accept complete ignorance of Facebook as an excuse for dangerous school policies like blanket bans – instead offer to be an action researcher, and try it out for a year.

The full list covers much more than this, and has a ‘healthy’ caveat of “don’t ever think you can refine and evolve these simple notes without talking to your students – they will know of problems and dangers you are unaware of, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t model safe behavior for them.” A great resource and one you should be mindful of.

  1. Perceptions of undergraduate Graphic Design students on the educational potential of Facebook

While this article is a good summary of art and design use of ‘studio space’ and how Facebook is a better medium than most traditional VLEs, it highlights the basic conflict of internal (owned) vs. external (unregulated) tools while offering a brief insight into how other disciplines ‘could’ use the social network (not for networking purposes).  The study found that “the interviewees in this investigation perceive educational benefits based on the communicative potential of Facebook. The diversity in the form and pattern of use posses less of a challenge for not all Facebook activities promote communication and it would be possible to focus on those that do.”

It continues by saying that “in addition, it may not be possible to convince all students who perceive Facebook only as a social space, that there are educational benefits in exploring what this SNS [Social Networking Site] offers in terms of interests groups and other useful information” and that a dedicated student induction (oh, another one?) would help address concerns over how it should be used on a granular level.

Official citation for this article is:

Souleles, N. 2012. Perceptions of undergraduate Graphic Design students on the educational potential of Facebook. Research in Learning Technology 20: 17490. http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v20i0.17490

  1. Students’ perceptions of using Facebook as an interactive learning resource at university

This article is published in the AJET (Australasian Journal of Educational Technology) and has a good amount of data to support the assumption that students would use Facebook as part of their learning:

  • 93% of surveyed students had an active Facebook account.
  • 78% anticipated that a Facebook page would facilitate their learning by increased interaction with students and instructors.
  • 81% engaged with the Facebook page at some stage during their studies.
  • 76% would recommend Facebook for future cohorts courses while only 51% thought that it was effective (effective at what though?).

The question I have is how are the learning materials structured to students who did not have a Facebook account (those who did not want one for various personal reasons) were not unduly restricted in their learning?

The article states that Facebook as a “learning aid suggests that it has the potential to promote collaborative and cooperative learning” but further study is required to investigate how it can enhance the learning outcome.

Official citation for this article is:

Irwin, C., Ball, L., Desbrow, B. & Leveritt, M. (2012). Students’ perceptions of using Facebook as an interactive learning resource at university. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(7), 1221-1232. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/irwin.html

  1. YouTube videos


YouTube: Using Facebook to Teach

YouTube: Facebook Used in the College Classroom

YouTube: Social networking sites have educational benefits

  1. I’ll See You On “Facebook”: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate

Another good academic journal article on a study into the “effects of teacher self-disclosure via Facebook on anticipated college student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate”. The study concludes that “certain forms of face-to-face self-disclosure can have disastrous effects on teacher credibility” (i.e. personal details, photos, etc) and that “teachers can strategically reveal pictures, quotes, and personal information that present them as competent and trustworthy instructors who have the students’ best interests in mind”.

Of course, this isn’t news to most of us – apart from keeping the student-teacher relationship purely professional in a classroom and teaching/learning environment we must replicate this in any online environment, social network, email exchange, IM chat, etc). In saying that some forms of self-disclosure by the teacher could help foster a closer professional relationship it must be argued that some forms of disclosure (the paper does not give examples here but I assume to mean some personal details that students to not need to know as opposed to overtly personal details, bordering on the kind of things that constitutes an employer disciplinary hearing) could harm the relationship: “students reported that teachers should self-disclose appropriate information.”

Official citation for this article is:

Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds (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, 1-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03634520601009710

  1. Student engagement – differences between the VLE and Facebook

This post is summed up nicely in this quote (but please read the whole post as there is much more here):

“In the main, the Facebook page, which is run by and for the students without tutor involvement, is centred on support for learning and skills development and in every case I saw, answers to problems that emerged from discussions were factually correct. In addition, the students offer one another impressive levels of support and encouragement. From the evidence of their own Facebook group, then, students are not unwilling to work and learn collaboratively.”

But what of the etiquette and/or training the student were given to using these systems? Are they instructed or left to their own devices? Are they given an outline of how it should be used, and when and for what purpose? This then raises the question, for me anyway, should we use Facebook at all, but if we do how at do we go to prescribe what & ow I is used.

“I am left wondering therefore if there is an  unspoken etiquette at play here – a set of norms which, in attempting to use social networks for tutor:cohort interaction, we as educators are somehow transgressing?”


  1. Facebook groups as LMS: A case study

This paper is an “attempt to use a Facebook group as a course website, serving as a platform for delivering content and maintaining interactions among the students and between the students and the lecturer.” The paper deals quite strongly in the student experience and student satisfaction of the use of Facebook, but this does not mean that it is an academic success, it just means they liked it. You can’t even look at results from class tests or end of course assessment to see if it’s a success either, there are too many variables to be included to know whether it was a good cohort or the technology applied that made the difference.

The Facebook Groups was “designed in a way that encourages participation and interaction on every single post uploaded to the group” but this in itself does not mean learning has been achieved, does it? The paper does conclude that the learning “environment itself is not solely responsible for the creation of learning dynamics”.