Saturday, April 28, 2012

So students- how do you 'use' Facebook for learning?

facebook business
facebook business by Sean McEntee

I've been listening to a discussion about whether we need to get more social in learning in higher education. Cardiff University currently uses Blackboard as its VLE (virtual learning environment- we brand it as Learning Central- which is rather aspirational) and like every other VLE there is the potential to be social there. Staff and students can form their own groups and set up their own forums and blogs and wikis. But these social dimensions are not often used.

For staff the university is rolling out the use of an IBM product Connections to encourage us to work in more social ways. And there are some people wondering if there is a place for this to be rolled out to students as well to give them another place to collaborate.

In the past I have tried to integrate the use of web 2 tools into Blackboard- using screencasts social bookmarking - to enhance the functionality of the social tools in Blackboard. You can see a presentation I have about this here. Now, I no longer lead that part of the course and have moved on to thinking about how we can best use technology in the course in general.

But one thing we keep hearing is that students do most of their collaboration in Facebook. So I was wondering if you could tell me about how you use Facebook for learning? Does this really happen? Or is Facebook a place that you organise nights out, and then share the photos afterwards?

Do you feel pressure to participate in Facebook as a student? Or is it just something that is a natural part of your life- you don't even think about it.

Please do comment and share- it would help us all to learn from you.

EDIT: Initial comments are that the social aspects of Facebook, and the fact that it is somewhere that you are already, that make it a clear winner against the VLE. I know this is hypothetical but if the VLE could be like Facebook do you think that might catch on? Or is the fact that Facebook is 'your' space, and that your lecturers are not there, one of the big attractors?

EDIT 2: How would you feel if your lecturers set up a private Facebook group to support an aspect of your course? Would you think that was creepy? That your lecturers were trying to keep an eye on you? Or would you think it was useful?

EDIT 3: I've found this blog post by Cristina Costa saying that Facebook should not be used for teaching. One reason she gives is that we don't know how Facebook uses information so we should be very cautious about encouraging students to use it. She includes this YouTube in her post.

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