Facebook and Social Media in education and teacher training


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1. Facebook and Social Media in education and teacher training Stefania Manca Institute of Educational Technology National Research Council of Italy Genova, Italy…
  • 1. Facebook and Social Media in education and teacher training Stefania Manca Institute of Educational Technology National Research Council of Italy Genova, Italy stefania.manca@itd.cnr.it The Mofet Institute, 6th May 2015
  • 2. ! ‫שלום‬‫לכולם‬
  • 3. Institute of Educational Technology National Research Council of Italy ITD-CNR is the only public scientific institute in Italy entirely devoted to studying how ICT-based tools and methods can innovate learning and teaching processes. The mission of ITD is to perform research studies and technology transfer activities focusing on:  ICT as a resource for teaching/learning processes;  innovative approaches to the design, management and assessment of learning environments;  study of new educational needs and opportunities brought about by ICT.
  • 4. Research lines at ITD-CNR  Innovation in disciplinary learning: development of environments and methods for innovative education in STEM and in the humanities (e.g. virtual and remote laboratories in science, representation and manipulation environments in mathematics; language learning; cultural heritage education).  E-inclusion: research addressing ICT-based inclusion for people with Special Education Needs: e.g. disabled, immigrants, people with learning difficulties or who are unable to participate in regular schooling.  Innovation in professional training: investigation of work-based learning. Areas of special interest include teacher training (pre/in- service), learning design and Open Educational Resources, entrepreneurship education, training in specific contexts such as medicine and digital scholarship.  New skills for the knowledge society: study of learning environments that foster the acquisition of key transversal skills such as information problem solving, computational thinking skills, communication skills, self-regulated learning skills.  Formal, informal and non-formal learning: investigation of the emergence of educational opportunities offered by social media, cloud computing, mobile systems, tangibles, etc., innovative learning modalities sustained by game based learning, mobile learning, online learning, inquiry based learning, etc., in different educational contexts of application, both formal and non/in-formal.
  • 5. Topics of this presentation 1. Potentials and critical issues of Facebook as a technology-enhanced learning environment: a literature review 2. Potentials and obstacles of Social Media use in higher education 3. Facebook for teachers’ professional development: the case of five Italian FB groups of teachers
  • 6. Potentials and critical issues of Facebook as a technology- enhanced learning environment: a literature review
  • 7. Aim of the review It was carried out in 2012 with the aim to explore the extent to which Facebook’s pedagogical potential – usually mentioned in the literature – is actually translated into practice, and to discuss the results from the literature in the light of future research perspectives. It was not intended to provide pedagogical recommendations related to the efficacy of Facebook as a learning tool, but to investigate to what extent the affordances provided by Facebook as a cognitive and relational amplifier have been exploited in the examined studies.
  • 8. Research questions 1. Mixing information and learning resources: To what extent does the combination of instructional material with information and knowledge sources, produced elsewhere and available through several channels, influence the design and the delivery of the learning experience? 2. Hybridization of expertise: To what extent are peripheral and emergent interactions occurring on networks through the contribution of current and past learners, practicing professionals, other teachers, etc. exploited, thereby encouraging the development of social capital? 3. Widening context of learning: To what extent do learners and instructors share personal and professional interests and aspirations, thus mixing different contexts of learning and social and personal life?
  • 9. Material and methods  Only empirical studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals with a specific focus on Facebook as a learning environment were considered.  Extensive research using the keyword ‘Facebook’ and according to criteria such as subject area (e.g., educational technology, Internet in education) or categories (e.g., educational research), with English as the language of the articles was conducted on a number of sources:  (1) a list of journals regarding educational research, educational technology and technology- enhanced learning;  (2) a number of electronic databases (Education Resources Information Centre – ERIC, Education Research Complete – ERC (EBSCO), Web of Science, Scopus).  As of 19 June 2012, 23 relevant articles were found. They were subsequently analysed according to a simplified list of guidelines. These articles were further analysed and recoded through a set of emerging categories.  Each paper was read independently by the two authors and analysed according to a simplified list of guidelines that comprised the following items: (1) author(s) and year; (2) research purpose; (3) Facebook usage; (4) Facebook features and other tools; (5) why Facebook?; (6) research design and methods; (7) context; (8) findings.
  • 10. Summary of results The results show that pedagogical affordances of Facebook have only been partially implemented. There are still many obstacles that may prevent a full adoption of Facebook as a learning environment such as: declared and implicit institutional policies, teacher and student pedagogies, and cultural issues.
  • 11. Mixing information and learning resources  Facebook was mainly used as a Learning Management System, relying on the familiarity of students with SNS. When used as and/or when compared with a virtual learning environment, Facebook seems to be conceived and designed as a ‘fenced’ space to deliver content and support interactions rather than to combine different and heterogeneous sources of instructional materials. As a consequence, this affordance of blending filtered and non-filtered contents seems to be very often underestimated.  However, in some experiences the information delivered in the course was not limited to predefined contents but open to diverse sources exposing learners to a variety of inputs. In this case, the authors seem to emphasize the need for a new role of the teacher as ‘information moderator’ with an obvious impact on designing and delivering.  In other terms, in so far as the exposure to many and different types of information can enrich the learning experience but also cause an increase of cognitive load, the role of teachers should be reshaped in terms of facilitators able to guide students to navigate in the oceanic world of digital information.
  • 12. Hybridization of expertise  There is an awareness that an open environment such as Facebook allows access to a plethora of resources usually inaccessible in closed learning systems. However, most of the learning experiences reported try to reproduce existing educational settings through the adoption of the metaphor of the classroom or lecture hall, with special attention to issues of privacy and protection of students’ identity.  The choice of consolidated pedagogies that derive from an established tradition of online and distance education that heavily relies on LMS and other virtual learning environments (VLEs) also affects many of the educational practices that are occurring on SNS. The bottom-up networked dynamics of social networks can conflict with the hierarchical top-down organization of academic institutions.
  • 13. Widening context of learning  Although some authors emphasize that teachers have to change their way of teaching to accommodate their students’ social and digital practices, a number of cases pointed out that although students tend to post more on Facebook groups than in LMS environments, the majority of posts are usually related to affective communication rather than to topics relating to the themes of the course. Although appreciating the learning experience that occurred in the Facebook environment, many students still resist its full usage as a formal tool of learning, at least when it is the only tool provided.  In a way, it seems that most students have a rather traditional vision of schooling. Their implicit pedagogies still make precise distinctions between spaces and time of learning and spaces and time for socialization and entertainment. These traditional visions of schooling and formal education tend to separate ‘life’ from ‘studying’ and ‘home’ from ‘lectures’, and students’ use of Facebook consequently ‘appeared to be (un)consciously replicating and reinforcing roles developed in their previous phases” of their education.
  • 14. In progress Is Facebook still a suitable technology-enhanced learning environment? An updated critical review of the literature from 2012 to 2015
  • 15. Potentials and obstacles of Social Media use in higher education
  • 16. “Yes for Sharing, No for Teaching!”  A study about the potentials and obstacles of Social Media for teaching in higher education have been object of a recent research, conducted through a survey addressed to the entire Italian academic staff at the end of 2013, with the aim of identifying the uses of Social Media in the field of university teaching practices.  The respondents were asked to identify frequency of use, motivations, teaching practices and obstacles related to the use of a number of tools: generic social network sites (Twitter, Facebook), professional and academic networking services (LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Academia.edu), tools to write and comment (blog, wiki) and to archive and retrieve content material for lectures and group work (podcast, YouTube and Vimeo, SlideShare).  The response rate was 10.5%, corresponding to 6,139 responses.
  • 17. Aims of the study This study aims at providing empirical evidence on how higher education scholars are using Social Media for personal, teaching and professional purposes, by taking into account a number of socio-demographic variables such as gender, age, numbers of years of teaching, academic title, and academic discipline.
  • 18. Research questions 1. What are the socio-demographic variables that are most related to frequency of personal, teaching and professional use of Social Media tools? 2. Is there a relationship between the different kinds of use, so that personal, teaching and professional use of Social Media tools are related to each other? 3. Is there a relationship between frequency of use of Social Media tools and online and/or blended teaching and use of institutional e-learning systems? 4. What are the main motivations to use Social Media tools in teaching? 5. In what ways were Social Media tools used as part of a course? 6. What are the obstacles that prevent academic staff from using them in their teaching practice?
  • 19. Main results 1/2  Scholars are more inclined to adopt Social Media for personal and professional uses rather than for teaching practices: the frequency of personal and professional use is on average high, with more than 70% of academics using at least one tool on a monthly basis for personal purposes and almost 60% for professional interest, while less than 50% declaring they use Social Media for teaching.  The variable most associated with frequency of use is scientific discipline: for example, Humanities and Arts plus Social Sciences are more inclined to use Twitter, Facebook, Podcast, Blog-Wiki and YouTube-Vimeo for all the purposes under investigation, while Mathematics and Computer Science plus Natural Sciences and Professions and Applied Sciences lean more towards professional tools such as LinkedIn and/or ResearchGate-Academia.edu.  Personal use is almost always associated with professional use, but much less with teaching use, though some important exceptions including Podcast, Blog-Wiki, YouTube-Vimeo and SlideShare must be noted, whereby the association between teaching and professional use is more relevant than the association between personal and professional use.  Prior experience with e-learning or blended learning is associated with Social Media use: scholars who are using the institutional e-learning platforms or are delivering online or blended learning are more inclined to use all types of Social Media for all the three types of uses, with the exception of ResearchGate-Academia.edu.
  • 20. Main results 2/2  As far to the main motivations to use Social Media tools in teaching, the scientific discipline plays a significant role also particularly referring to Podcast, Blog-Wiki, YouTube-Vimeo and ResearchGate- Academia.edu.  Social Media are used to visualise resources, comment on them or even create new content.  The obstacles that prevent academic staff from using Social Media for teaching are mainly cultural and social factors (the erosion of teachers’ traditional roles, the management of relationships with students or the issue of privacy threats; pedagogical (face-to-face teaching is perceived as pedagogically more effective than online teaching); and administrative and institutional.
  • 21. Conclusions  Social Media use is still rather limited and restricted and that academics are not much inclined to integrate these devices into their practices for several reasons, such as cultural resistance, pedagogical issues or institutional constraints.  However, there are differences among academics in the ways they use Social Media or perceive them, mostly depending on the scientific discipline of teaching and personal data such as age.  Overall, the results emphasize ambivalent attitudes towards the benefits and challenges of these tools in the context of higher education with obstacles prevailing over advantages.
  • 22. Teachers’ professional development in online social networking sites: the case of five Italian FB groups of teachers
  • 23. Social networking sites and professional development Social media and social networking sites are progressively gaining attention also in relation to professional development and life-long learning for school and academic teachers and staff. Social networking is indeed a fundamental aspect in develop- ing a strong professional identity and furthering professional development. These sites are emerging as places in which to cultivate different forms of social capital, bridging and bonding, that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit, as well as exchange of resources, personal and professional relationships and implications for psychological well-being.
  • 24. Some theoretical concepts Social capital and SNS Networks of practices and SNS
  • 25. Social Capital and SNS  Bridging social capital = loose connections between individuals based on the exchange of useful information or new idea but no or weak emotional support  Bonding social capital = benefits that individuals may derive from emotionally close relationships, such as family and close friends, which might include emotional support or other type of assistance Although research suggests that the practice of using Facebook to maintain existing social relationships is more common than that of using it to create new connections with strangers, there is also some evidence that ‘users may use the site to convert latent into weak ties’.
  • 26. Networks of practices and SNS  They implies a set of individuals who are connected through social relationships, whether they be strong or weak  What distinguishes a network of practice from other networks: individuals interact through information exchange in order to perform their work, asking for and sharing knowledge with each other.  In electronic networks of practice, individuals may never get to know one another or meet face-to-face, and they generally coordinate through means such as blogs, electronic mailing lists, or social media sites.
  • 27. Preliminary remarks It seems that something like a transition from a pure form of recreational Facebooking to a new form of professional Facebooking is taking shape on the web, demanding a renewed attention to the social processes occurring in these places. To date little empirical research on the professional use of Social Network Sites (SNS) has been conducted, particularly with reference to groups of teachers on Facebook.
  • 28. The study  In 2011-2012 an extensive survey on teachers’ groups in Facebook was conducted to investigate professional uses of informal social networks.  A questionnaire was addressed to the members of five Facebook groups (n=1107) with the aim of verifying a series of research hypotheses focused on the relationship between types groups and social exchanges, on the one hand, and types, groups and professional implications, on the other.  The study identified two typologies of groups, generic or thematic. The main goal of the generic group was the sharing of experiences related to schools in general, while the main purpose of the thematic group was focusing on a very distinctive discussion theme (e.g. dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities).
  • 29. The five Facebook groups
  • 30. Results • Data seem to suggest that a difference exists between the two groups in terms of types of shared social capital. Generic groups seem to be mainly characterized by bridging social capital, whereas thematic groups by bonding social capital • In generic groups SNS seems to play the role of an infrastructure enabling the activation of ‘latent ties’. In thematic groups SNS plays the role of supporting the maintenance of social capital and of existing ties • In thematic groups the direction of the movement between online/offline activities would be from offline to online, whereas in generic groups the direction is reversed, from online to offline • Groups in social networks may be meant as sub-networks delimited by virtual boundaries
  • 31. Advantages and drawbacks Advantages Drawbacks • Construction and negotiation of professional identity • Sharing of educational practices and experiences, debate on methods and implicit pedagogies • Continuous mentoring for pre- service and novice teachers • Emotional and socio-relational support in professional life • Blending of virtual and real as a means through which to promote new collaborative projects • Blurring of personal and professional identities and difficulties related to their management • Possible control by administrative staff • Digital divide related to the adoption of social networking sites for personal use - Low digital literacy skills
  • 32. References  Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2013). Is it a tool suitable for learning? A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology-enhanced learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29 (6), 487-504.  Manca, S., Ranieri, M. (2013). Identity, Credibility, and Trust in Social Networking Sites: Old Issues, New Mechanisms, and Current Challenges for Privacy and Security. In L. Caviglione, M. Coccoli, A. Merlo (Eds). Social Network Engineering for Secure Web Data and Services (pp. 5- 31). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.  Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2014). Does Facebook provide educational value? An overview of theoretical and empirical advancements of affordances and critical issues. In G. Mallia (Ed.). The Social Classroom: Integrating Social Network Use in Education (pp. 312-338). Hershey, PA. IGI Global.  Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (submitted). Facebook and the Others. Potentials and obstacles of Social Media for teaching in higher education. Computers & Education.  Manca,
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