A Case Study Investigating the Use of Facebook as a Learning Management System in Higher Education
Adam M. Gutschmidt, North Carolina State University, United States
North Carolina State University . Awarded
This dissertation addresses the issue of using the social networking website, Facebook, for educational purposes by examining how it was used in an upper-level public relations course. Research on education suggests instructors should find ways for their students to take a more active approach in learning and can do so by having them engage in additional dialogue. Social networking technology affords users the opportunity for extended communication on shared concepts. Popular social networking websites, like Facebook, have primarily been used for social and entertainment purposes, helping friends and family members remain connected. While the communicative effects of social networking have been examined, little is known about its impact when used within an educational context. This study intended to discern the uses and interactions that would transpire when students and their instructor used Facebook for pedagogical purposes.
In this case study, all participants were interviewed prior to the semester to identify their familiarity with and perceptions of Facebook. Participants were observed in the classroom over the course of a 15-week semester to determine how they were using Facebook. Interviews were also conducted with all participants at the conclusion of the semester to gather their reaction to the application being used in this new context. Interview responses and observations were coded and analyzed to draw conclusions on the success of this implementation. Results from the study reveal the instructors’ efforts to integrate the technology into his curriculum waned as the semester progressed. Students exhibited and expressed both apathy and uncertainty towards using Facebook as a learning tool. Most students were also observed using the social networking website for non-pedagogical purposes. It is suggested that the results of this study were due to a flattened hierarchy that was created by the presence of Facebook. Joining in a social network with students, the instructor was unable to exhibit the authoritative role necessary for communicate to them how Facebook should be used in an education context. Future attempts at adopting social networking within the classroom will require clear objectives and role identification.
Gutschmidt, A.M. A Case Study Investigating the Use of Facebook as a Learning Management System in Higher Education. Ph.D. thesis, North Carolina State University.
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