Helpful and collaborative tool

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1- Helpful and collaborative tool

a- Exchange material and experiences

When their attention did turn towards university-related matters, students would often use the Facebook walls to describe and sometimes deliberate on their most recent instances of the university experience - be it lectures, seminars or, on occasion, library visits and individual encounters with teaching staff. For example, students would use Facebook to ‘go over' their experiences of recently finished lecture(Neil Selwy March 2009).

In particular the data show how the Facebook walls were certainly functioning as a valuable means of exchange for those students who were making active use of Facebook with their peers on the course. (Neil Selwy March 2009).

Facebook should therefore be seen as an increasingly important element of students' meaning-making activities, especially where they reconstruct past events and thereby confer meaning onto the overarching university experience (Neil Selwy March 2009).

It is through this type of online community that FB users are able to sustain meaningful and dynamic educational experiences, exercise higher levels of thinking skills and construct knowledge (Garrison, & Kanuka, 2004), particularly in the language classroom(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Departments now have an effective vehicle for delivering news, updates, forms, and files to the staff as a whole (now nearly 2000) that is easy to use, flexible, timely, and more effective than traditional paper newsletters, Web sites, or centralized document distribution” (p. 3) (Klein, 2008,) (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

b- Exchange academic information

It is recognised that some of the qualities of social networking may clash with current pedagogical paradigms. Whilst educationalists hope that social networking promotes exchanges between learners that are related to formal educational objectives, SNSs are also celebrated for providing channels for informal and unstructured learning. For example, it has been suggested that social networking offers the opportunity to re-engage individuals with learning and education, promoting a ‘critical thinking in learners' about their learning, which is one of ‘the traditional objectives' of education' (Bugeja 2006, 1) (Neil Selwy March 2009).

Alongside these logistical issues more academically orientated information was also sought via the Facebook walls, albeit on a less frequent basis. In these instances students would exchange information about academic and intellectual requirements of

their courses, usually concerning the nature of required reading for seminars, the speculated content of examinations or the required content of essays and other assessment tasks. In some instances, potentially privileged information and advice given to one student by a lecturer or tutor was relayed dutifully to a wider audience. However, in most cases this information was based upon students' own interpretations in the absence of any official guidance. This then led to what could be termed as rather limited instances of ‘peer guidance': (Neil Selwy March 2009).

Such misinformation and misinterpretation aside, there were sporadic instances of students using Facebook to assist each other's educational endeavours in more inventive ways. For instance, students would recommend on occasion journal articles and books to each other - copying and pasting results from bibliographic database searches into the walls of other students. Two final-year students were even using Facebook as a means of recruiting an opportunity sample of respondents for their dissertation research projects, with apparent success (Neil Selwy March 2009).

In particular the data show how the Facebook walls were certainly functioning as a valuable means of exchange for those students who were making active use of Facebook with their peers on the course. (Neil Selwy March 2009).

Much of students' ‘educational' use of Facebook was therefore based around either the post-hoc critiquing of learning experiences and events, the exchange of logistical or factual information about teaching and assessment requirements, instances of supplication and moral support with regards to assessment or learning, or the promotion of oneself as academically incompetent and/or disengaged. (Neil Selwy March 2009).

(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

In many of the small group seminars I taught during 2007 and 2008, students would immediately share Facebook information with each other and become online ‘friends', often using the site to replicate classroom networks and to informally exchange course-related questions and discussions(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

From the language learning perspective,Mills (2009)study on the usability of FB as a valuable environment to experience and engage in learning the French language appears to be pertinent and timely.Mills (2009)discovers that her students - with the help of FB as an authentic environment for enhancing communication, interaction and discussions in French - are able to meet the grammatical, functional and linguistic objectives of her French language course.

(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Although still in the early stages, academic gains have been reported. It was noted that the district has “already discovered that teachers leveraging the tools to bolster science curriculum through group projects and lesson reviews have seen an average nine-point gain in test scores and student achievement” (Klein, 2008, p. 3). Similarly, teachers have seen the same results in the areas of writing and language fluency (Klein, 2008, p. 3). All of these benefits are realized at a relatively low cost to the school district. (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

c- Advice supporting and answering inquires about lectures and futures, last minute information.

Around half of these reflections related to events which one of the students had been absent from, with the absentee seeking post-hoc justifications to rationalise the legitimacy of missing the class or not understanding the lecture material, whilst also allowing their peers space to express conciliatory ‘techniques of neutralization (Neil Selwy March 2009)

e. In many instances, this information concerned the practical logistics of attending courses - most commonly the scheduling and location of lectures and seminars. For some students a degree of uncertainty surrounded this information, leaving

Facebook as a useful means of last minute information-seeking(Neil Selwy March 2009)

Of course, from the academic department's point of view this information had already been presented to students in various accessible forms (handouts, wall notices, class announcements, group emails and via the official ‘Blackboard' virtual learning environment). Yet from the students' perspective, these methods were not always contiguous with their own modes of communication and information gathering. (Neil Selwy March 2009)

As well as information relating to attendance, many of these practical information exchanges took place around the periods of assessment and concerned the requirements of examinations and coursework assignments. For students across all three-year groups, issues such as the required word counts for essays or the speculated format of examinations were of utmost concern. Here students would turn to Facebook to seek clarification from their peers and then settle on a shared course of action and a

collective (ir)responsibility: (Neil Selwy March 2009)

Whilst these two housemates were relying on their own interpretations, Facebook was also used as a conduit for students to inform others of their personal contact with university staff. This ‘cascading' of information can be seen in the following

discussion of the same word count issue(Neil Selwy March 2009)

Another category of Facebook exchange centred around supplication and the seeking of moral (rather than intellectual) support with regards to the demands of the students' studies. In these postings students would often present themselves as rendered helpless in the face of their university work in the expectation that their peers would then offer support and comfort. Sometimes these accounts were constructed in a self-deprecating and humorous fashion, albeit with the intention of soliciting succour from others: (Neil Selwy March 2009)

(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009).

Students interviewed talked about how Facebook allowed them to learn from the older students whom they did not usually meet with in person, allowing them to network with groups who had similar academic interests ,even if they were in different classes.

(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009).

Similarly,Haverback (2009)observed and informally examined her students' creation and participation in an online learning community on FB to discuss assignments, ask and answer questions, post information, and support one another for their Reading Education Methods course. She found that her students were motivated to be involved in discussions in FB and they grasped a better understanding of the theoretical principles in ensuring effective reading. Her students also developed better ideas as a group compared to when they read individually. (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Haverback (2009, p.1)observation of her own students: “they were continuing a conversation they had participated in the night before. I was astounded that my students had been so motivated they had met outside of class”.

(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

I began by asking how many of the class members actually participated, and surprisingly all but one student stated they employed the group daily. The students revealed that they used the Facebook group to discuss assignments, ask and answer questions, bounce ideas off one anther, post information they found, and support one another. One student shared, "When writing the paper for the class, we were all talking about the meaning of the (reading theoretical) principles on the Facebook page, and it really helped me sort it out. (Heather Rogers Haverback 2009

d- Active, specialist, scientific groups

Some commentators contend that SNSs offer ‘the capacity to radically change the educational system… to better motivate students as engaged learners rather than learners who are primarily passive observers of the educational process'

(Ziegler 2007, 69) )(Neil Selwy March 2009).

Facebook also allows the creation of groups for particular academic courses, with wall posting used to discuss elements of the course. (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Nearly a hundred librarians at North-American universities have created library groups on Facebook (Charnigo & Barnett-Ellis 2007). In South Africa, there are several library-related Facebook groups, but membership is still relatively low (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009).

growing number of college libraries are tapping into Facebook and MySpace. At Georgia Tech, the information services librarian reports using Facebook to network with mechanical engineering students (Matthews, 2006). “With the undergraduate enrollment for mechanical engineering around 1,700 students, I was surprised to discover that more than 1,300 of them were on Facebook. This presented an intriguing opportunity to directly market the library to more than 75% of my target audience” (p. 306). Matthews felt that Facebook had help accomplish his goal of promoting the library as a subject liaison and helped meet the needs of his students (Matthews, 2006, p. 307). (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

Colleges are also using SNSs for university marketing campaigns(M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

Southern Illinois University's College of Business at Carbondale reports using Facebook to communicate and market school events as well as activities to students and alumni. The university department reported 400 members on its Facebook group, allowing “ … members to receive school news and communicate easily with students, faculty, alumni, and others in the school community” (Reaching Students Where They Live, 2008, p. 60)

(M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010

e- Prepare student before lecture to be productive and more participate.

In addition, some lecturers indicated that class time is spent more effectively, because student queries had already been dealt with via Facebook. Students use the site to indicate which areas of the material they would like a particular instructor to cover, and the lecturer then comes to class prepared for this. (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009).

In many cases this kind of interaction was transferred to real-world settings, as students felt lecturers were more approachable after interacting with them online(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009).

A recent study byRoblyer et al. (2010)found that university students are very open to the possibility of using Facebook and similar technologies to support classroom work(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Yancey (2009)discusses how FB and similar tools such as blogs and online forums can be used so students can see writing done in these new media as “writing” and they can make use of these media to become better writers. In the process help students become thoughtful and informed writers(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Prensky (1998)“We must get our teachers - hard as it may be in some cases - to stop lecturing, and start allowing students to learn by themselves(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

The findings suggest that high teacher self-disclosure as operationalized in the present study may lead students to higher levels of anticipated motivation and affective learning and lend to a more comfortable classroom climate (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

Perhaps, those students who access their teacher's Facebook page may feel more comfortable communicating in the classroom and will approach the teacher with course questions and concerns, which may have a positive influence on important learning outcomes

(Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

In their open-ended responses, students encouraged teachers to use Facebook so that they could have the opportunity to become acquainted before meeting in the classroom(Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

Therefore, I asked a few questions and soon learned how the Facebook group was helping my preservice reading teachers.

(Heather Rogers Haverback 2009)

Educators should use Facebook to promote student reading through book clubs, book discussions, and shared readings. When I heard one student say, "When we all get our minds together, we come up with better ideas than we would on our own," I knew it was time to use Facebook and wedge ourselves into the 21st-century learning environment. (Heather Rogers Haverback 2009)

, Facebook was increasingly used by some students for contacting other students to organise group meetings for academic project work, revision and coursework queries: it became more than just a social network for some students and started to become an informal educational network as well: (Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

f- Strengthen relationship between students-students and students-teachers

As Maloney (2007, 26) continues, ‘social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have shown, among other things, that students will invest time and energy in building relationships around shared interests and knowledge communities.

((Neil Selwy March 2009)

This has prompted some educationalists to explore the potential of social networking to augment ‘conventional' interactions and dialogue between students and teachers. Some have welcomed the capacity of social networking services to offer educators a forum for ‘easy networking and positive networking with students' (Lemeul2006, 1) (Neil Selwy March 2009).

. Indeed, in terms of education-related interaction, Facebook was used primarily for maintaining strong links between people already in relatively tight-knit, emotionally close offline relationships, rather than creating new points of contact with a ‘glocalised' community of students from other courses or even institutions (Neil Selwy March 2009).

One might assume that students use Facebook to broaden their existing social networks and meet new people, e.g. for dating, whereas others may use Facebook to consolidate existing social networks

At the University of Pennsylvania, a professor uses Facebook to teach concepts of social networking and to foster critical thinking, having students investigate the connections among their peers (Barnes 2007) (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

One example of student community building on Facebook was an online group set up to provide emotional support to the friends of a student who had been killed in a car crash. (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Perhaps more important than student engagement with lecturers is the potential Facebook offers for students to engage with one another - they are already in touch via social connections, which may be useful for generating peer review on their written work. (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Klein (2008)reports that, “One of the key benefits of this initiative has been improved communication and the establishment of a sense of community(M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

Mazer et al. (2007)say that “Students may perceive a teacher's use of Facebook as an attempt to foster positive relationships with his or her students, which may have positive effects on important student outcomes(M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

“… an excellent mechanism for communicating with our students because it allows us to go where they already are; it is an environment that students are already comfortable with” (Mack, Behler, Roberts, & Rimland, 2007, p. 4). (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

Facebook also makes faculty seem more approachable and opens up new avenues of communication” (Reaching Students Where They Live, 2008, p. 6) Facebook, as well as other SNSs, have been used to open the communication lines between students and universities by informing them of college events and other collegiate activities. (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

While time constraints can often limit the amount of face-to-face student socialization, students who use forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC) (e.g., online meeting places or social networks) may experience more opportunities to develop personal relationships than their face-to-face counterparts (Walther, 1995) (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

Scholars found that students who communicate via CMC with other students use more direct uncertainty reduction strategies (e.g., more intimate questions and self-disclosures) than students in face-to-face conversations (Tidwell &

Walther, 2002). Thus, the use of CMC in the instructional context could ultimately have a positive effect on the student-teacher relationship, which can lead to more positive student outcomes. Additionally, these findings may offer an explanation with

regard to communication between students and their teachers. O'Sullivan, Hunt, and Lippert (2004) extend this notion by discussing various methods that increase mediated immediacy*‘‘the communicative cues in mediated channels that can

shape perceptions of psychological closeness between interactants''(Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

Facebook is a contemporary technological tool that can offer teachers and students a unique method to nurture the student-teacher relationship, which can ultimately create a positive learning experience for both parties interactants''(Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

It is clear therefore that Facebook was an important social tool used by the majority of the respondents to aid transition to university. The importance of making new online friendships with people in the same hall, course or university is apparent - but so too is the importance of Facebook for keeping in touch with already existing friends as older offline relationships shift to the online domain (Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

g- Tool for orientation student who join to higher education and social integration in university life

مكررOf course, from the academic department's point of view this information had already been presented to students in various accessible forms (handouts, wall notices, class announcements, group emails and via the official ‘Blackboard' virtual learning environment). Yet from the students' perspective, these methods were not always contiguous with their own modes of communication and information gathering (Neil Selwy March 2009)

Much of the data showed students coming to terms with the roles and the nuances of the ‘undergrad' culture within which they found themselves located (Neil Selwy March 2009)

One lecturer, for example, responded that it was easier and quicker to ‘talk' to people whom she saw daily on Facebook than to look for them in class, if she needed to communicate something important to them (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

The student leaders are also presented with a Facebook workshop, described below, during their summer training. This workshop, also offered to incoming students during orientation, provides more in-depth coverage of the topic. Through these efforts, the staff is better equipped to consistently reinforce messages about on-line communities to new students. (Sara E. Hinkle, Staci L. Hersh 2007)

Where incoming students attending the orientation workshops consistently offer positive feedback and express intent to practice the recommendations, many undergraduate staff members express resistance, and insist that administrators and employers should not invade this “private” domain for students. These concerns were assuaged with specific references to current information and cases, and student staff gradually acknowledged the importance of addressing these issues with our first-year students. While this eventual staff acceptance allowed administrators to move forward to host successful Facebook workshops, there is something to be learned from the student staff's initial negative reaction. (Sara E. Hinkle, Staci L. Hersh 2007)

In total, over half of the respondents (55%) had used Facebook to make new ‘virtual' friends prior to starting university (Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

Once at university, the students in our survey utilised Facebook to aid their settlingin process and at the time of the survey (April to June 2008) they had a mean average of 81 online friends in the university Facebook network(Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

Overall, 21% of respondents felt Facebook had been very important in helping them to form friendships at university and a further 52% said it had been important or quite important(Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

Facebook was certainly an important part of the ‘social glue' that helped students settle into university life, created a sense of community and aided communication

(especially about social events). (Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

Motivation

h- Less pressure

 

(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009).

Students are positive about the FB as an online learning environment because by participating in FB, they are able to use the language freely (Nadzrah, & Mickan, 2003) without worrying about making language mistakes (mean score=3.55)

(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

i- convenience

Ellison et al. contend that Facebook usage is linked to measures of psychological wellbeing ,suggestion that it might provide greater benefits for users with low self-esteem and low life satisfaction(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

The students agree that the use of FB would enhance their communication skills (mean score=3.82), assist them to practice writing in English (mean score=3.82), make learning English more fun (mean score=3.81) and enhance their confidence to write in English (mean score=3.80). (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

In terms of enhancing confidence, 69.2% of the students are of the opinion that FB could enhance their confidence to write in English (mean score=3.79). In terms of reading English materials, 71.0% of the respondents believe that by participating in FB, their confidence in this aspect has improved (mean score=3.76). As for the students' communication skills using English, 67.9% of the students surveyed admit their confidence level has increased (mean score=3.76). Most of the students said that writing in FB “create confidence” (R116), “boost confidence” (R254), and “dare to communicate in English” (R32). The students elucidate that this increase in their confidence level is because they are, (1) able to practice using English in FB with the native users of English (R254)

(2) able to express their feelings in English to their friends (R124),

3) able to use English for practical purposes that are not governed by linguistic rules (R112) and,

(4) exposed to an English language learning environment, which is FB (R280)

Since the students need to read and write in order to communicate with their friends in FB, their confidence levels may have increased simply because, they wrote and read more in FB (O'Hanion, 2007)

(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Students in this study preferred asking their reference and research related questions using Facebook and email even more than face to face. (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

. A teacher's use of Facebook is an attempt to communicate with students outside of that controlled environment where teachers can meet students in their territory. All teachers will enter the face-to-face classroom and talk to their students, but only some teachers may choose to enter a virtual social network (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

Guided by the basic tenets of Petronio's (2002) communication privacy management theory, teachers can present themselves through Facebook as individuals who function outside of the classroom in relaxed, social situations unlike the traditional classroom environment (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

j- Cope facing the common dilemma of negotiation study matters .

In particular, Facebook appears to provide a ready space where the ‘role conflict' that students often experience in their relationships with university work, teaching staff, academic conventions and expectations can be worked through in a relatively closed ‘backstage' area. (Neil Selwy March 2009).

One of the main educational uses of social networking is seen to lie in their support for interaction between learners facing the common dilemma of negotiating their studies(- Neil Selwy March 2009).

Above all these data would suggest that Facebook has been fast established as a prominent arena where students can become versed in the ‘identity politics' (and in Erving Goffman's term ‘facework') of being a student. Facebook therefore represented a space where the ‘role conflict' that students often experience in their relationships with university work, teaching staff, academic conventions and expectations can be worked through. In particular this study found Facebook being used by many social science students as a space for contesting and resisting the asymmetrical power relationships built into the institutional offline positions of student and university system, therefore affording these students with ‘backstage' opportunities to be disruptive, challenging and resistant ‘unruly agents'. Goffman (1959) referred to the self as moving between the ‘front-stage' arena (where publicly visible social characters are performed) and the ‘backstage' area where actors keep their props or ‘identity equipment' and can relax out of role. In this sense, Facebook would certainly appear to be an important arena within which the ‘behind the scenes work' of being a student are being performed away from the gaze of the formal university setting (- Neil Selwy March 2009)

In some ways Facebook could be perceived as a shared space - not controlled by either the students or their lecturers - and thus breaking down the traditional power hierarchies between student and instructor(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

k- Humor & interesting environment by using several communication tools

The orientation of SNSs towards self-presentation, the viewing of others' personal information and multiple means of communication and exchange has certainly proved attractive to students in high school, college and university settings. (Neil Selwy March 2009).

It has been claimed, for example, that social networking applications share many of the desirable qualities of good ‘official' education technologies - permitting peer feedback and matching the social contexts of learning such as the school, university or local community (Mason 2006 - Neil Selwy March 2009).

-Despite the popular positioning of social networking as exciting educational tools, some critics think they may distract learners from their studies (Cassidy 2006). The use of social networking therefore continues to be a controversial element of the digital education landscape (Neil Selwy March 2009)

A final theme prominent throughout the data was referred to by the students as ‘banter'. These exchanges were humorous in nature and often heavily interlaced with irony and sarcasm. Whilst this type of exchange was common throughout

students' non university-related use of Facebook, in the case of their universityrelated banter three main foci for their humour emerged. Firstly was the admonishment of other students in relation to their studies, often replicating the tendency for students to present themselves in a self-deprecating manner (see above). Thus students who were seen by others to be overly engaged with their

studies were assigned identifying labels such as ‘spods', ‘geeks', ‘keenos' and so on. A more sophisticated source of work-related humour derived from banter about assessment tasks - such as misunderstanding questions for comic effect. (Neil Selwy March 2009)

According to some commentators such ‘nonsense' written by students on discussion boards can be seen as marking a transitory period whilst they acclimatise themselves with the online environment (e.g., Williams 2002). Yet this was not the case with our Facebook data, where ‘nonsense' was a recurring discourse through the duration of our analysis, not least the recurring theme of banter related to teaching staff. Here students exchanged humorous (and occasionally fantastical) stories about their tutors and lectures. Some of these instances of banter certainly revealed a fascination for details about the ‘non-university' lives of university staff, with some students taking great pride in providing reports on staff sightings outside of the confines of the department (Neil Selwy March 2009)

FB, with its unique features such as feed, online games and chat encourages users to interact and engage with anyone from any parts of world in any language that they are comfortable in

(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

In addition,Blattner, and Fiori (2009)also point out that FB can be utilized for authentic language interaction, and can be used to increase motivation and improve the performance of English language learners. They argue that FB, has “unique features that offer constructive educational experiences while maintaining privacy and safety” and that the potential of FB is “growing everyday with new applications” (p. 8) that are yet to be explored and examined.

(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

She had also highlighted that the use of FB was culturally relevant to her students. Her students also felt that the French class was more fun and applicable with the use of FB and this enhanced classroom discussions among the French language learners. According toMills (2009), such dynamic engagements between the learners in FB motivated her students to use accurate French (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

The students agree that the use of FB would enhance their communication skills (mean score=3.82), assist them to practice writing in English (mean score=3.82), make learning English more fun (mean score=3.81) and enhance their confidence to write in English (mean score=3.80). (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

The students' positive views and opinions regarding FB as an environment to facilitate English language learning can be explained by the fact that online platforms, such as FB, provide authentic interaction and communication that the students might not have experienced before. Such positive experience could then lead to “increased confidence in language acquisition and a sense of connectedness” among the students (Wang, & Chen, 2007, p.6) (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Over 72% of the students agreed that FB could an environment for enhancing students' motivation to communicate in English (3.76). Similarly, 72.2% students also assent that FB enhance their motivation to read in English (3.75). As for writing, 67.3% students concur that FB is able to motivate them to do so) (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

also, through the various activities, quizzes and online games that FB hosts, the students make a conscious effort to understand and learn the language. For instance, when answering the quizzes, R114 tries to “understand the question in order to find the answer”, while R103 makes use of the quizzes in English to learn more of the language. Students R134 and R109 also make conscious attempts to “learn from the quizzes” and “read the quizzes”, respectively. R132 claims that she has learned “a lot of new words from the quizzes”. In addition to theGroupsapplication, FB offers various applications that allow various types of interaction between its users. For example,Coursesis an application that instructors and students can use to create links to course at universities, creating the opportunity for collaboration and exchange of knowledge. These two applications are among the numerous applications available in FB that potential to facilitate language learning.

(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

The social and interactive nature of SNSs presents the intriguing possibility that by enhancing social interactions with and among students through the use of an SNS such as Facebook, instructors can increase the overall quality of engagement in a given instructional setting and, thus, create a more effective learning environment. SNSs also provide easily-measured evidence of both student and instructor interaction. (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

l- A space of freedom discussion and giving attitude.

Above all these data would suggest that Facebook has been fast established as a prominent arena where students can become versed in the ‘identity politics' (and in Erving Goffman's term ‘facework') of being a student. Facebook therefore represented a space where the ‘role conflict' that students often experience in their relationships with university work, teaching staff, academic conventions and expectations can be worked through. In particular this study found Facebook being used by many social science students as a space for contesting and resisting the asymmetrical power relationships built into the institutional offline positions of student and university system, therefore affording these students with ‘backstage' opportunities to be disruptive, challenging and resistant ‘unruly agents'. Goffman (1959) referred to the self as moving between the ‘front-stage' arena (where publicly visible social characters are performed) and the ‘backstage' area where actors keep their props or ‘identity equipment' and can relax out of role. In this sense, Facebook would certainly appear to be an important arena within which the ‘behind the scenes work' of being a student are being performed away from the gaze of the formal university setting (- Neil Selwy March 2009)

Many of the students' wall postings can be seen as acting as public identity performances - complex and often awkward sites of performance where the individual attempts to construct and maintain a public image to their peers (see Boyd

and Heer 2006) (- Neil Selwy March 2009).

Indeed, it could be argued that Facebook was acting as an ideal site for what Goffman terms as ‘role distance' - situations where students sought to distance themselves from roles which had to be enacted but with which they did not necessarily wish to be identified by others. For example, we saw how some students sought to maintain a degree of personal autonomy by engaging in the minimum of overly academic behaviour expected of being an undergraduate scholar and/or were acting in ways that exhibited their lack of commitment to the role. On Facebook, students could rehearse and explore resistance to the academic ‘role set' of being an undergraduate (Merton 1957) - i.e., the expected and ‘appropriate' behaviours towards their subject disciplines, teachers and university authorities. Students who were facing conflicting demands in their roles as socialites, minimum-wage earners and

scholars could use Facebook as an arena for developing disruptive, challenging, dismissive and/or unruly academic identities. Thus Facebook was acting as a ready space for resistance and the contestation of the asymmetrical power relationship built into the established offline positions of university, student and lecturer

(Bourdieu and

Passeron 1977) (- Neil Selwy March 2009)

m- Open a new horizon of knowledge and information

SNSs may also benefit learners by allowing them to enter new networks of collaborative learning, often based around interests and affinities not catered for in their immediate educational environment (- Neil Selwy March 2009).

Hence, we concur with the view of Godwin-Jones (2008)that tools and platforms such as FB, “that enhance communication and human interaction can potentially be harnessed for language learning” (p. 7) and have become new sites for potential research ( Bloch, 2008) (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Background

a- Why web-based eductation is widely used

Web-based learning has made learning content much more freely and instantaneously available to students who can download course notes and readings with a single mouse click(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009))

Moreover, it has been argued that the current generation of youth, often described as Net Geners or Digital Natives, may be resistant to traditional methods of teaching and learning(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009))

Electronic technologies can serve as an effective way to enrich the educational environment and promote student engagement (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, Whitt, & Associates, 2005) (Sara E. Hinkle, Staci L. Hersh 2007)

b- What is facebook?

Facebook was created in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University. While its membership was originally limited to Ivy League college students, membership was later (since 11 September 2006) extended to anyone worldwide with a valid email address, and it is the seventh most accessed website in the United States (US) (Torgeson 2006). There are an estimated 30 million users worldwide, and of those who have publicly shared their location, there are currently (as of 9 July 2009) 13 642 Facebook users registered on the South African network. Local usage is fairly widespread, and South African users can add headlines from major South African news sites, and access Facebook mobile using their cell phones - a feature often used to update users' status messages. Facebook also allows local users to text message their status updates, at the cost of sending a regular SMS. (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

The electronic community Facebook, for example, connects people through social networks by allowing anyone with a valid e-mail address to create profiles, connect with friends, join interest groups, exchange messages, and post photos. The site has grown to support over 42 million registered members (Read, 2007) “in over 40,000 geographic, work-related, collegiate, and high school networks, and…ranks as the seventh-most trafficked site in the United States" (“Microsoft and Facebook,” 2006) (Sara E. Hinkle, Staci L. Hersh 2007)

“Both MySpace and Facebook are social networking websites that provide personalized and interactive services based on users' interest and activities on the web” (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

In early 2004, Facebook was created. According to Hirschorn (2007), “Facebook was started by Mark Zuckerberg, 23, while he was a student at Harvard in 2004. The general concept was to digitize the legendary (Harvard) freshman-year ‘facebook,' and allow students not only to gawk at one another's photos but also to flirt, network, [and] interact” (p. 154). At first, Facebook.com was limited to college students at Harvard with a university email address (Boyd & Ellison, 2008, p. 218). Later, the Facebook phenomenon spread like wildfire when opened up to all college students(M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

Facebook was created as a form of communication among students (Lashinsky,2005); (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

c- How is it used

Whilst Facebook is based around a range of constituent features based around the sharing of content, the most used feature of many students' Facebook page is the wall (Pew Internet and American Life Project 2007) - essentially an asynchronous ‘chat' facility owned by each user. Here users can exchange short text messages with their nominated ‘friends', with ‘wall-to-wall' exchanges then visible to other users. The wall is perhaps the most conventional computer-mediated-communication feature of Facebook and, in terms of the configuration of Facebook at the time of the study, constituted the main space where users could interact and communicate with each other (Neil Selwy March 2009)

some signed up but do not actively participate, even though they often observe on the site, reading information posted by their friends; and some are active users, uploading and downloading information and using a variety of applications on the site, predominantly for social purposes. Within the latter category, there is a further divide between those who use Facebook for social purposes only, and those who also use Facebook for some kind of academic conversations, though these were usually linked to classes in which this type of participation was a course requirement (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Students updated their status frequently, particularly before and after a weekend(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009) The most common uses were listed as general purposes of socialising - sharing information about social events and parties, sharing photographs and other images, music and videos, and keeping in touch during university vacations.(Lampe 2006) (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Facebook is similar to MySpace relative to user capabilities. As with MySpace, the user can create a profile and provide information such as personal interests, list schools in which the user attends, and upload photos (Kwong, 2007, p. 55-56). Furthermore, the users can blog under the “My Notes” section of Facebook (Kwong, 2007, p.56). Like MySpace the user can join groups based on interests and post events much like the functions in MySpace (Kwong, 2007, p.56). Finally, as with MySpace, messages can be exchanged between the users (Kwong, 2007). (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

d- Why facebook exactly?

The take-up of Facebook amongst university students during the mid-2000s was rapid, leading one media researcher to warn university authorities that ‘Facebook owns your campus' (Stutzman 2006) Neil Selwy March 2009).

In other words, use of Facebook was consistent across the student sample regardless of age, stage, gender or academic performance(Neil Selwy March 2009)

In this sense we would concur with Ellison's conclusion that Facebook represents an ‘offline to online trend' in that it serves a geographically bound campus community((Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe 2007, 1144)Neil Selwy March 2009)

How Facebook has become an important site for the informal, cultural learning of ‘being' a student, with online interactions and experiences allowing roles to be learnt, values understood and identities shaped (Neil Selwy March 2009)

As such it could be concluded that Facebook is an important learning technology of twenty-first century higher education - albeit one that contributes to what Kitto and Higgins (2003, 49) term, ‘the production of the university as an

ambivalent space' (Neil Selwy March 2009).

Facebook is one of many Web 2.0 tools - wikis, delicious, YouTube, podcasts - that are listed as having potential applications for teaching and learning (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Social networking sites have become increasingly popular with the rise of Web 2.0, the so-called second generation of web-based communities, with increased collaboration and sharing between users through applications like wikis, blogs and podcasts, RSS feeds, etc. Sites like MySpace.com, Friendster and, most recently, Facebook.com, have experienced surging popularity, particularly among youth who use these new technologies to create instant communities of practice (Castells 2007) (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

The focus was on undergraduate students, as they are generally the heaviest users of the site (Stutzman 2008) (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

However, if one considers the large numbers of students on Facebook often actively participating in discussions and groups, it cannot be ignored as a potential educational tool. Compared to university course sites, e.g. Vula at UCT, students are more engaged with Facebook, and perhaps educators need to explore ways to tap into an already popular network(Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Downes (2007) argues that Facebook is distinctive from other social networking sites because it has stronger roots in the academic community, and further proposes that the site's varied and distinctive functions allow it to provide a very different model of how online tools can be used in educational contexts (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

Facebook (FB) is currently considered as the most popular platform for online social networking among university students. (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

It is estimated that there are 350 million active registered users of FB, with 50% users logging in to FB on any given day and more than 65 million active users currently accessing FB through their mobile devices (www.facebook.com). (Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

Social Networking Sites (SNSs) such as Facebook are one of the latest examples of communications technologies that have been widely-adopted by students and, consequently, have the potential to become a valuable resource to support their educational communications and collaborations with faculty(M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

A comparison of faculty and student responses indicate that students are much more likely than faculty to use Facebook and are significantly more open to the possibility of using Facebook and similar technologies to support classroom work. Faculty members are more likely to use more “traditional” technologies such as email. (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

Facebook is one of the most popular SNSs for college students and was by far the one website that helped “tip” SNSs into the mainstream culture. (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

The social and interactive nature of SNSs presents the intriguing possibility that by enhancing social interactions with and among students through the use of an SNS such as Facebook, instructors can increase the overall quality of engagement in a given instructional setting and, thus, create a more effective learning environment. SNSs also provide easily-measured evidence of both student and instructor interaction. (M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman, James Vince Witty 2010)

Unlike Friendster and MySpace, Facebook operates exclusively for those in the academic community and has become increasingly popular on college campuses. (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

This social network is unique from others (e.g., Friendster and MySpace) in that it serves to connect students and faculty within and across an academic community(Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

This network is increasingly being used not only by students but also by faculty. According to Facebook spokesperson Chris Hughes (personal communication, May 1, 2006), approximately 297,000 Facebook members identify themselves as faculty or staff. (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

While it may be simple to query a teacher's website on a standard search engine, any Facebook user can easily search and view any user's Facebook page through the Facebook network. On a teacher's typical website, interaction may be limited as the webpage can be somewhat static (Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds 2007)

The focus was on Facebook as this is the SNS that has become one of the most popular online destinations (Hargittai 2007), particularly for British students of higher education, acting both as an important social domain and a

powerful communication tool in young people's lives (Pastore 2002 cited in Fox,Morris, and Rumsey 2007, 540). (Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

Bugeja (2006) warns of the dangers of Facebook, arguing that it can be both a tool and a distraction in the classroom, and that the solution is not to block content, but to foster in students the ability to discern when and where technology may be appropriate or inappropriate.

Some people do not check their e-mail accounts every day, but "Ladies of 324" can expect at least one member to be on Facebook almost all the time because of its diverse and entertaining functionality. (Heather Rogers Haverback 2009)

The power of social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn are so coveted that NASA recently created a social networking application on their internal network called "Spacebook." Spacebook allows the NASA community to connect while creating a secure and professional environment.

Mason (2006), for example, suggests its utility lies in its reflective qualities, its mechanisms of peer feedback and its collaborative models of learning whilst Selwyn (2007) notes its attractiveness lies in its ease of education related interactions between students, albeit often in an informal way (Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley 2009)

recent research findings that over 95% of British undergraduate students are regularly using SNS (Mori 2007)

Diadvantages

Some educators also listed the potentially distracting nature of Facebook, arguing that students spend more unproductive time online, instead of focusing on their studies. (Bosch, Tanja E.(2009)

On the other hand, the negative impacts include wasting or overspending of time (Fodeman, & Monroe, 2009); and encouraging negative attitudes (such as lying) and affecting students' social growth detrimentally(Muhammad Kamarul Kabila, Norlida Ahmadand Mohamad Jafre Zainol Abidin 2010)

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