Facebook and its impact on social networking and education

Steve Wheeler posted in his blog.  He asks: Should we try to use social networking services such as Facebook and Myspace as serious educational tools, or should they remain the domain of informal chat and backstage antics?  Great question.

Here is a research paper on Facebook.

With these themes in mind, the paper concludes that rather than necessarily enhancing or eroding students’ ‘front-stage’ engagement with their formal studies, Facebook use must be seen as being situated within the ‘identity politics’ of being a student. In particular, Facebook appears to provide a ready space where the ‘role conflict’ that students often experience in their relationships with university work, teaching staff, academic conventions and expectations can be worked through in a relatively closed ‘backstage’ area.

I think it could be a huge challenge for educators to use social networking service such as Facebook as a serious educational tool or a formal education media.

First, as reported in past papers, learners won’t find it comfortable to learn with their teachers over their shoulders, too much “control” as the learners might sense.  Besides, this could be perceived as an “intrusion” of the learners’ private space.  Learner autonomy always comes first, especially in online learning in higher education.

Second, people go to Facebook for totally different reasons from formal education.  People (with learners alike) like socialising, sharing of feelings and emotions, or sharing of some interesting sites or links on Youtube, personal likes and dislikes, or articles.   Some may even prefer online dating, or just chatting with friends in an informal manner.

Third, educators could be more readily able to exploit Facebook when sharing with other educators, but would find it difficult to interact with learners.  For educators in Facebook, when it comes to communicating and interacting with peers or closed friends, there could be many taboos, as no one wants to be “gossiping” around other educators’ back – that is just not professional.  Besides, this could be viewed by students and other colleagues, and thus creating tensions.  Even counselling or mentoring might better be done in private, via messaging, rather than in an open public space.

Finally, Facebook is designed more on a private “family” sharing basis – with photos, short messages, links to great sites like Ted.com or YouTubes, blogs, or news etc.   So a light tone of socialising and networking would be more appropriate in the interaction and communication amongst friends.  Education with fun, or exciting news would be welcomed by the friends and family members.  And that may be the boundary that most people would draw IMHO.

Here is “Viewing American class division through Facebook and My Space” by Danah Boyd.

Facebook has 250 million users, amazing!  It has now got more than 500 million users (as at 28 Oct 10)

How do you use Facebook?

Postscript: More information from this 10 ways Universities Share Information Using Social Media.

This paper on Facebook provides a useful summary. Facebook usage was found to interact with measures of psychological well-being, suggesting that it might provide greater benefits for users experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction.  That sounds good for people who want to socialize but may be too shy to do so in a face-to-face manners.  Also, this may help in boosting life satisfaction, by sharing views and experience with friends or classmates over FB.

Regression analyses conducted on results from a survey of undergraduate students (N = 286) suggest a strong association between use of Facebook and the three types of social capital, with the strongest relationship being to bridging social capital.  In addition, Facebook usage was found to interact with measures of psychological well-being, suggesting that it might provide greater benefits for users experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction.

Postscript: This post provides a good overview about How much Facebook knows about your life.

A post on Why do people use Facebook on 17 Feb 2012.

17 thoughts on “Facebook and its impact on social networking and education

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  3. so facebook as we know of has created a revolution in cyberworld but it does not has the facility of video chatting so to make a difference they must add video chatting to be popular than ever and also tagging a photo of friends should be done only through the permission of their friends.

  4. Pingback: #Social Media – FB in MOOC | Learner Weblog

  5. Facebook groups work well for writing groups, at least the one I am in, and would, I think, also do well for discussion groups, book clubs and possibly ESL groups. They might also work for some simple level of posting announcements, reminders, assignments, links to readings ~ but not as the only location for the information.

    We work in multiple nodes, and, yes it gets confusing, but we should also think about our students doing the same. They may well already be used to hopping about, less susceptible to its confusion than we think. Those resistant to not used to app and platform hopping can stay on the few they feel comfortable with. Who knows, by course end they may well be trying out new locations on their own.

  6. Glad to learn about such changes on the use of FB. So you have found it useful.
    Are educators allowed to “friend” students on FB? There are reminders that “we” shouldn’t do so. I think there are good reasons for such policy guidelines for “us” to follow. Not sure if that is the case in most HE? I could see lots of potential in the use of FB, but it seems that people don’t like it mainly because of personal security and privacy issues. Some potential employers could easily check out the profiles and “behavior” of the applicants on FB, see this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRosz3RmgeI&feature=related
    Besides, many young people are looking for friendship and relationship on FB, not “formal education”. For our Change11 FB, I could only see handfuls of participants posting or commenting there. May be FB is still not everyone’s favourite. Just wonder why! I have already posted a lot under my FB name, and so I try to limit my postings on FB Change11. I think everyone should have a chance to post and share. I also found the FB threading not as good as gRSShoppers, or even other LMS (Moodle). For instance, you need to use @Vanessa to highlight who you are responding to. Otherwise the conversation seems too confusing for others to follow. Besides, most of us preferred short concise postings on social media – like Twitter. Do you use Twitter?

  7. John,
    This is a fine compilation of a range of perspectives on Facebook and its educational value. I am trying to catch up with FB posts and am limited to 2 days of posts. Wonder where they go? Is there a FB Cloud somewhere? So what is the educational value of FB?

  8. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for your visit. As I am resident of my FB page, but a visitor of the FB groups, so the main groups that I am affiliated with are those that you might also have joined – ConnectivismEducationLearning, Change11, eduMOOC, CCK11, PLENK2010. You have set limits of 2 days posting of FB, that is wise for me to learn. Is there a FB Cloud? I think FB just keeps everything there, and is already the CLOUD. How do you find it? What is the educational value of FB? I am not fully “convinced” yet, and my students aren’t there (with me), though many are on FB. Would they prefer to have their private space – for their “education”? As for FB with Change 11, I am looking forward to see more “discourse” but it seems that most posts were having short threads of discussion. Just interested in why? The pragmatics of FB. How about your views on educational value of FB? John

  9. Hi John,
    FB is easy to use. The postings in my FB are like “slices of life,” or “windows on the world.” Much learning occurs by tracking moments and glancing out the window….. FB enables that to occur. It has provided me with access the connections to content and to some of the presentations from Change… Not everyone can attend the group meetings, but if the link to the presentation is posted on FB, it is possible to follow the dialogue. It is a limited tool. There is little opportunity for ongoing dialogue, collaboration, or personalization. Clearly, your blogs enable you to have a place for all of your ideas and thoughts and to track conversations. Perhaps the blog postings also enable you to collaborate with others. One notes that these posting are on your Learner Weblog rather than in the ongoing dialogue related to this discussion, which was posted in the Change 11 group.

  10. Hi Mary, Glad to learn your views. Much learning occurs by tracking moments and glancing out the window – so do I. I resonate with your mention of its limitations. I still prefer to post on my “personal” blog space in FB. That allows for more personal space for ongoing dialogue, similar to this blog. I also restrained from posting too many posts on Change11, as I don’t intend to broadcast in a forum space on FB. How do you find the conversation on FB so far? John

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