Facebook for learning?
The ubiquitous nature of Facebook and popularity with ‘millennial learners’ have lead many to ask how it can be used in education. In their article, Is it a tool suitable for learning? A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology-enhanced learning environment, Manca and Ranierit (2012) analyse 23 peer-reviewed journal articles that focus on Facebook for education to answer this question. Disappointingly, they don’t try to establish the efficacy of Facebook as a learning tool, but instead explore whether it is being exploited as a means of developing social capital in learning communities and a channel for mixing information and learning resources.
The main reasons educators are using Facebook for learning are: students are familiar with this platform, it’s easy to use, and it’s hip. The main ways it’s being used are:
- Discussion and peer-to-peer learning
- Developing multimedia content
- Sharing resources
- Delivering content
- Supporting self-managed learning
Interestingly, the main Facebook feature that teachers use is the ‘private group’, obviously for privacy and security reasons, but it begs the question why use Facebook (if we take out ease of use, and familiarity) and not the the learning management system which has the privacy and security built in, if we are going to use it to emulate traditional teaching models.
Students’ reactions to the use of Facebook in classroom settings were divided. On the one hand there are those who find it useful for ‘dissemination of information, arousing interest, motivation and presenting an opportunity for interaction’, on the other, there are those who dislike it in terms of ‘mixing study with entertainment, problems with control mechanisms and excessive convergence of information’ (p. 8).
In one study Moodle was preferred to Facebook because students could learn more about each other in Moodle, thus fostering a greater sense of trust and social presence for the learning community.
Manca, S.& Ranierit, M., 2012. s it a tool suitable for learning? A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology-enhanced learning environment. Jounal of Computer Assisted Learning, [Online]. 29 (3), 1-18. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12007 [Accessed 15 April 2013].