By Nisha Malhotra, PhD
For those who aren’t familiar with Facebook, a page is really just like a blog for your posts. People join by clicking the ‘like’ button and can then follow your updates. Members can post comments or submit their own posts.
I encouraged my students to join and discuss their research on our Facebook page. I visited the page each day to answer questions and post relevant articles. The page seems to be a natural addition to this course, which requires the budding researchers to discuss and review literature, data, and regression analysis.
Many of the students began participating instantly (though some never signed up). The students quickly formed study groups outside of class, exchanged articles, and helped each other. Overall, they performed better than the non-participating students. The discussions on Facebook were commendable and carried over into face-to-face discussions. In class, students were interacting like never before and seemed more comfortable with each other as a result of the online interactions. Not only were the discussions in class livelier, but also the students were more insightful in discussing each other’s research. After all, they knew the topics beforehand.
Why a Facebook group
- A Facebook page creates a public presence online. Anyone on the Internet, even those that donâ€™t have a Facebook account, can view this page. By default, comments can be viewed by anyone on the Internet. (Pineda)
- Students tend to be concerned about their online persona—saying something unintelligent is a big concern for them. (Selwyn) As a result, they are less likely to participate on a Facebook page than a closed group.
- Facebook groups resemble an online cafÃ© with walls to the rest of the online community, allowing students to (a) chat in real-time, (b) discuss in virtual-time, and (c) share materials through straightforward file upload.
- Facebook groups can be open (public), closed (require administrator approval for joining and only members can read the posts), or secret (only members can see the group, who’s in it, and what what’s being posted).
- Students prefer a closed group. They are apprehensive about asking questions in open groups where their Facebook friends can judge them as scholastically inept. (Selwyn)