Facebook: Learning tool or distraction?

Aaron M. Fewkes
Mike McCabe


The article will explore how a selected sample of secondary school students in Ontario have been using Facebook since it has become accessible to them and whether or not this use “supports the learning agenda” of classrooms as school boards have envisioned. The researchers collected both quantitative and qualitative data from 63 Ontario high school students via a questionnaire distributed through Facebook. Stating many examples of use for educational purposes, 73% of respondents reported having used Facebook for educational purposes. Of the students surveyed, only 27% said that at least one teacher had found ways to include Facebook in their lessons, and further, 77% of students believed that teachers do not support Facebook being unblocked. The results of this research point to a need for the better utilization of Facebook in classrooms and the need for school boards who choose to “embrace” the increasing popularity of social media to implement programs that better ensure teachers also feel comfortable enough to embrace this informal teaching tool.


Social media, Facebook, Educational technology, Web 2.0, Secondary schools, Ontario, Censorship, Policy


This study examined whether Facebook could be used as a learning tool or if it tended to only distract students. For the study, researchers created a Facebook group called “Facebook: Learning Tool or Distraction.” Students from Ontario High Schools were invited to fill out online questionnaires. 51 students filled out the entire questionnaire, 12 partially completed it. Findings include that almost have of students go on Facebook once during class, with a higher number visiting throughout the school day on lunch and other breaks. The authors suggest that these times are noteworthy because they are times when students and teachers usually don’t interact that, through the use of Facebook, could be used for sending reminders about assignments. The authors state that “from a pedagogical perspective, knowing that increased reminders to do something increases the chances of it happening, another reminder sent to students, via a medium they are using, at times when students tend to mis-manage their time well, seems logical” (p. 96).

APA Citation

Fewkes, A. M., & McCabe, M. (2012). Facebook: Learning tool or distraction? Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28, 92-98.

About the Study

Links to Article https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C50&q=Fewkes%2C+A.+M.%2C+%26+McCabe%2C+M.+%282012%29.+Facebook%3A+Learning+tool+or+distraction%3F+Journal+of+Digital+Learning+in+Teacher+Education%2C+28%2C+92-98.&btnG=
Mode Technology-enhanced
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education
Type of Research Mixed methods
Research Design Mixed methods
Intervention/Areas of Study Adaptive learning, Course design, Instructor-student interactions, Social media, Social presence
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest K-12
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest Academic achievement or performance, including assessment scores and course grades, Learning effectiveness
Student Sample Size 0-99
Citing Articles https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=11248383564142393527&as_sdt=5,50&sciodt=0,50&hl=en