Magazine article Distance Learning

Can Facebook Help Students "Like" Learning?

Magazine article Distance Learning

Can Facebook Help Students "Like" Learning?

Article excerpt


When instructors hear the word "Facebook," many roll their eyes while images of distracted students and selfies fill their heads. And while yes, Facebook has developed a stigma of a purely recreational tool and can be used for purely social purposes, the technology behind the online platform is capable of so much more. This stigma stems from its unique origin as a simple peer comparison tool (think "Hot or Not") within the nine Harvard dormitories. Facebook may not have started out as Web 2.0 technology-a website that emphasizes user-generated content and usability-but it has quickly become one of the leading Web 2.0 technologies.

With more than 1.4 billion people on Facebook as of 2016 and an average of 1.04 billion daily active users, this means that, more likely than not, your students are engaged and familiar with the platform. And its software maturation over the past decade has created new opportunities for the platform that far surpass its primitive one-click capability, offering you new possibilities for global community, group learning, and connection within the classroom. While the site has been easily accepted as a social media and marketing tool by culture, research is beginning to show that it may also be a viable resource in the classroom-research that we as educators cannot ignore.


Before addressing the benefits of Facebook in a pedagogical setting, I want to first acknowledge the general controversy around social media sites like Facebook. In a recent study on the effects of personality traits, self-esteem, loneliness, and narcissism among university students on Facebook, the relationship between these psychological traits and Facebook use was examined. Responses to a questionnaire from 393 first-year undergraduate psychology students revealed that students who are high in "openness" (e.g., actively sharing information and interacting with other users on Facebook) use Facebook to connect with peers to discuss a wide range of interests; however, students who are high in loneliness (e.g., using Facebook to satisfy emotional need) use the site to compensate for their lack of offline relationships (Skues, Williams, & Wise, 2012). This study showed that while social networking can have negative uses and impact, there is also positive interaction going on within the social scene. The current rise in research about Facebook in the classroom is showing time after time the benefits of the Web 2.0 technology. When this information is paired with the fact that there is prevalent Facebook usage within universities, it becomes our duty to at least entertain its positive educational properties.


In his 2012 article, The Relationship Between Frequency of Facebook Use, Participation in Facebook Activities, and Student Engagement, American psychologist and education and social media researcher Reynol Junco noted:

Given that Facebook continues to be popular among college students, and that universities are interested in engaging and retaining students, it is important for those working in higher education to familiarize themselves with Facebook (and other such technologies) and to design and support interventions that meet students where they are, in order to help them get to where they are going. (p. 170)

Current university students are part of the "millennial generation," a unique generation that has grown up in a culture where physical and electronic worlds are increasingly overlapped (Dyson, Vickers, Turtle, Cowan, & Tassone, 2015). Based on the widespread use of Facebook among these students, instructors who incorporate the technology into their pedagogical strategy are given opportunity to connect with students on a deeper level (e.g., having several concurrent conversations about different topics of interest) as well as create a support group in a platform students are already familiar with. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.