The Use Of Facebook For Online Discussions Among Distance Learners


Tina LIM


ABSTRACT
With the advent of Web 2.0 tools, educators are looking to these new technological tools to examine its potential in enhancing teaching and learning. While its runaway success as a social networking tool is now renowned, the use of Facebook for educational purposes may be considered still at its infancy stage. This paper describes the use of Facebook as a platform for academic discussions among distance learners. It offers a glimpse into how mobile learning via SMS together with Facebook was used to support and enhance the blended learning approach at Open University Malaysia for three courses: Learning Skills for Open and Distance Learners, Company Law and Renal Nursing. Data on user interactions collected were from the “Page Insights” tools available to Page administrators for the whole duration of a course semester. Facebook interactions examined include total number of fans, total interactions, interactions per post, post quality and unique page views. Findings indicate that Facebook does have the potential to draw distance learners to engage in meaningful academic conversations but the quantity and quality of posts very much depends on the timing as well as the topics of discussion.


KEYWORDS: Facebook, Social Networking, Online Discussions, Distance Learners, Mobile Learning

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