Facebook’s Potential for Collaborative e-Learning

Francesca Cerda
Neus Planas

Abstract

Today, Facebook (www.facebook.com) is probably the most palpable example of environments known as ‘social networks’ or ‘Web 2.0’. Social networking sites are platforms that facilitate information sharing, interaction and collaboration among their users. However, Facebook’s success is not solely dependent on its capacity to connect people, although this was its initial orientation. The platform’s power for sharing resources and linking content on the Internet to user profiles, as well as its evolution towards live-streaming and microblogging, enable it provide support for complex, continuous interaction experiences and, consequently, to structure collaborative-learning processes. The platform’s communication tools, combined with the option to enhance its potential by installing third-party modules and applications, allow members of a community or work team to carry out very diverse activities. On the basis of theoretical underpinnings represented by the socio-constructivist perspective on communities of practice, the Web2Learn work group analyzed and assessed the features that enable Facebook to be used as a platform for carrying out collaborative online activities from two angles: technological and educational.

Keywords

Facebook, Social networks, Collaborative learning, Communities of practice, Web 2.0

Annotation

The purpose of this article is to review the potential pros and cons of using Facebook in an educational context. The authors suggest that “the platform’s [Facebook] power for sharing resources and linking content on the Internet to user profiles, as well as its evolution towards livestreaming and microblogging, enable it [to] provide support for complex, continuous interaction experiences and, consequently, to structure collaborative-learning processes” (p. 197). The primary benefit of using Facebook is that interactive Web 2.0 technologies “foster active participation and student-centered learning” (p. 199). The particular strengths of Facebook for collaborative learning include its pervasiveness, the simplicity of use, the ability to chat, microblog, and message others, the ability to expand the potential of the interface through various add-ons and plug ins, and ease of use for mobile devices. (pp. 202-203). The authors suggest that even though education wasn’t the original intent of Facebook, the benefits of the use of Facebook as a learning tool include the use of innovative learning approaches including informal and collaborative learning. They suggest that since students are active in the process of generating and discussing content on Facebook, this could also potentially increase motivation levels. Ultimately, they argue that the biggest strength of Facebook in pedagogy is its ease, immediacy and ubiquitous nature.

APA Citation

Cerda, F. L., & Planas, N. C. (2011). Facebook’s potential for collaborative e-Learning. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC), 8, 197-210.

About the Study

Links to Article https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.7238/rusc.v8i2.963.pdf
Mode Technology-enhanced
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento
Type of Research Critical or postmodern
Research Design
Intervention/Areas of Study Collaborative, group, or team-based learning
Level of Analysis
Specific Populations Examined
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest
Student Sample Size
Citing Articles


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