Monthly Archives: October 2013

Supporting Student Transition Through Social Media

This study has similar goals as my own though in a very different context, focusing on how a third level business faculty’s Facebook page impacted on student engagement and retention. It was managed by the departments student engagement officer. This paper addresses many of the issues facing Educational Institutions in using Facebook such as should Universities try to incorporate Facebook when there is still so little know about its impact on education. Or do students even want Universities to try? Many students have a troublesome relationship with Facebook and other social networking sites, acknowledging them as drains on their study time and their attention. However the sheer volume of students on Facebook does make it very tempting to Universities who want to explore online relations with their students.

The paper concludes that as a teaching tool it is still an unknown quantity but as a tool to enhance student engagement and retention among students “who would otherwise be otherwise be isolated or disengaged”.

The research does seem to suggest that the jury may still be out on Facebook as a teaching tool but that it can, when properly resourced, improve student engagement and retention.

Supporting Student Transition Through Social Media
Carolyn Woodley & CaAtherine Meredith
American Journal of Distance Education
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08923647.2012.655055

Facebook Groups as LMS: A Case Study

This study asks if Facebook groups can provide an alternative to LMSs such as Moodle and Blackboard. The authors set out the functions of an LMS as providing:

  1. Digital Learning resources,
  2. Interactivity with other course members and opportunities for collaboration
  3. Grading and assessment functionality online.

A Facebook group provides at least 1 and 2 of these 3.

Important differences between LMS and Facebook:

Ownership: An LMS is managed by the Institution whereas Facebook is a neutral space and content uploaded is owned by both students and educators.

Content Management: Facebook groups provide a more equal levels of content management and creation between students and educators than a LMS would.

Interaction and Content: Content and commentary or interaction of any sort are closely combined on Facebook. A wall post can be content and can be commented upon by default and create interaction very easily. Forums and other interactive tools in an LMS do not have such features.

Synchronous interaction: students can see when others are online and communicate privately one to one or via the whole group. A new feature since the writing of this paper is to create an IM chat with a subset of Facebook group members. These are communication tools Moodle does not have.

Assessment: Facebook does not have many of the assessment features an LMS such as Moodle has. However for the purposes of my study, assessment is not a goal and Moodle will remain the online assessment tool.

In this study Facebook groups were created for a third level course of 5 students. Participation was voluntary. Students were asked to reflect on learning and highlight difficulties in the Facebook group.

Students felt that the Facebook group provided a supportive and collaborative environment which intensified social consolidation. Facebook encouraged students to express themselves with even passive students having the ability to ‘like’.

There were some negatives in using Facebook.  Students expressed unease with the blending of their social online activity with that of their academics and also in expressing themselves through writing in a group forum. This is an issue also highlighted by Woodley and Meredith.

Despite these I believe these are positive findings that support the idea of Facebook as a more effective tool for improving engagement when compared to Moodle.

Ref: Facebook Groups as LMS: A Case Study
Meishar-Tal, Hagit; Kurtz, Gila; Pieterse, Efrat
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, v13 n4 p33-48 Oct 2012
http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1001705.pdf

Putting it all together…

Well my second year back has begun and I am hoping to more effectively use this blog to constructively aid me in my studies. I would like to find a way of collecting and gathering all of the on-line resources blogs, tweets, etc. in one place and I think I’ll try and use WordPress’s tags function help me organise my findings under certain categories. These tags should also help any visitors to my site navigate around and find what they are looking for.

Though not a prolific twitter-er-er I’m going to test twitter out and see if I can use it as a bookmarking tool. I may as well use my otherwise dormant twitter account for something constructive.