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The revolution of technology and the wide use of computers are changing the nature and even the scope of pedagogy in every field of knowledge. In 21st century Malaysian classrooms, computers had become an essential tool for language teaching and also to enhance certain knowledge. Besides that, computer is an electronic marvel that has become a permanent umbilical cord that connects the individual to the rest of the world. Students nowadays rely on technology for garnering information, to stay updated on current social issues, to maintain inter-personal communication and as also as a method to learn. A similar trend can be found in the academic world. Besides that, the recent outburst of students and educators in becoming active members of social networking sites (Stutzman, 2006; Tufekci, 2008) had drew certain attention to the potential of such web resources to encourage and foster positive relationships among students or even to enhance the credibility of teachers' engagement in the contemporary of student culture (Garrison and Kanuka, 2004). Consequently, these technological innovations have helped to emerge a new type of learning environment, which represents a shift from teacher-centred to a student-centred theory of learning.
Meanwhile, computer based telecommunications such as the use of social networking system, Facebook can represent a new type of emerging technology that offer ESL teachers a cost effective tool in creating learning environments that are able to encourage purposeful interaction and communication among learners (Susan, 2008). Moreover, the participation of student in the learning process and a shift away from those high structured or even teacher controlled environment may characterize recent pedagogical practices in language teaching. However, this shift to student-centred learning can only take place via the effective management of the complex interplay between student wants and personal's characteristic. In addition, the learning activities ought to be computer-assisted and in relation to the educator's pedagogical orientations.
A variety of opinions have been put forward. In fact, the use of Web 2.0 technologies (i.e. blogs, twitter, podcasts, wikis, social network sites- Facebook or Twitter, virtual worlds, video sharing and photo sharing) are so common among people this modernisation era. They are crafting on-line lives that seamlessly meld with their off-line world. Indeed, the internet is playing an important role in not only students' social life, but also academically. Educators are now opting Web 2.0 tools like Facebook as a tool for English lesson. They draw upon their ability to assist in creating, collaborating on and sharing content in Facebook by using certain features like 'status update'. At present, little empirical research has been conducted on the value of Web 2.0 tools like Facebook in education (Crook & Harrison, 2008).
So, it is appropriate at this point to review the potential of Facebook in more detail and to consider the role of Facebook can play in encouraging and making more available these desirable learning experiences. Thus, I would like to examine Facebook from the perspective of the potential of Social Network Sites, the advantages of utilising Web 2.0 technologies, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), Second Language Acquicition(SLA), Interaction Hypothesis, Communicative Language Theory and Communication Mediated Communication (CMC).
To this end, the literature review of this chapter will be sub-divided to two sections. The first section will document the theoretical framework based on some language learning theories mentioned in the previous paragraph. The second section will discuss on current research studies on Facebook as an educational tool.
2.1 Theoretical Framework
Relevant hypotheses about the use of Facebook in language learning
2.1.1 The potential of Social Network Sites
According to Danah M. Byod and Nicole B. Ellison from Michigan State University (2007), social network sites are defined as web based services that enable individuals to build a profile within the bounded system. It is also to articulate a list of other individuals with whom they share a connection. However, they claim that the nature of these connections may vary in all sites. So as the nomenclature too.
It is undeniable that Facebook is one of the most successful social networking sites. What make Facebook different from other social networking system is Facebook allows users to choose the applications that they want in order to enhance their profile page. Moreover, this social network site also supports mobile interaction. There is another interesting feature that differentiates Facebook from other social network sites is the ability for any developers to build "Applications". These applications allow individuals to set up and design a personal profile to perform other tasks. For instance, compare their movie preferences and also to their chart travel histories (Danah and Nicole, 2007).
Besides that, the fact of Facebook's popularity also suggests that Facebook is a potential venue to gather everyone. The Facebook environment is indeed more interesting than classroom. Founded at Harvard in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg as a means for students to interact with one another, Facebook has grown tremendously to 150 million users on every continent (including Antarctica) at the start of 2009 (Zuckerberg, 2009, P.1). Facebook is extremely popular on university and college campuses in the world wide. One recent survey found out that 88.6% of first-year student using Facebook actively, with 90% of these users logging in at least once a day (Brewer, Yu, DiGangi, and Jannasch-Pennell, 2008). So, the potential of Facebook as a social network site to learn English is indeed very huge.
Since one of the most current attention-getting technological advances is social networking systems, Facebook's environment is indeed a potential learning environment and yet should be examined carefully. As we know, Facebook is an internet sites that allow people to find each other, share personal information, share photos, and even to interact at any time or place. The use of Facebook is very significant because it has become an essential place for students to communicate and interact between each other. Besides sending messages to their friend's message board and posting updates on 'Status Update', many students are using Facebook to coordinate group projects and activities. Some students also post pictures, conduct surveys via Facebook. The live chat program in Facebook provides students another alternative to communicate with their friends. Thus, Facebook is indeed a communication hub for people to keep in touch with one another. Other than that, they may contact their teachers through Facebook outside the classroom too.
Despite being a social networking site for Facebook's users to keep in touch with their friends or family members, Facebook is an excellent and awesome e-learning platform. Teachers can upload their slides for coming lessons and even share some interesting multi-media show by just tweaking some of the applications or technologies in the Facebook. With a strong and powerful platform, educators could create some useful applications for Facebook that comes along with better functions or features through the use of state-of-the-art technology. For instance, they can design and develop applications that students are allowed to consult their teachers directly. Thus, it would definitely increase the efficiency of problem solving.
Meanwhile, there are also many people who still puzzled on how online social networking site like Facebook can help to develop the sense of community in the ESL classrooms. Some may think on how Facebook can impact the socio-pragmatic competence's development in ESL learners. In fact, Facebook can help language learners to improve both aspects by observing and taking part in 'Groups' discussion in which the target language is spoken natively. In addition, we can create a group for that particular class to take part in online discussion. Teacher may type a topic on his/her 'status update' for academic discussion to take place. Not forget to include the dead line as well. For example, 'FOR PXET 4313 PARTICIPANTS: Do we communicate to learn a language or do we learn a language to communicate? Justify your position on the issue. (Comment until 23 May 2010)'. Students are requested to post their comment and teacher will act as a facilitator to guide them and avoid them to run out of track. So, teacher can actually evaluate few things at the same time. For example, language aspects, maturity of the ideas and also student's thinking skill. In terms of privacy, this group can be a close group and only members can view and comment on the contents.
Facebook is considered as one of the Web 2.0 technologies. So, the next section will discuss on the advantages of using Web 2.0 technologies in English lesson.
2.1.2 The advantages of utilising Web 2.0 technologies
"Web 2.0", a phrase coined by O'Reilly Media in 2003 (O'Reilly, 2005). It refers to a perceived 2nd generation of web-based communication or interaction. It helps to build communities too. Furthermore, web 2.0 is considered a shift from a World Wide Web that is "read only" to a Web that is being described as the "Read Write Web" (Gillmor, 2007). Basically, this 'read, write, web' is open and collaborative. It is not only a static page, yet it is shareable. Moreover, Web 2.0 forges links between 'nodes' to build networks. Web 2.0 concentrates on the common applications such as blogs, social networking, video sharing and even podcasting. It is indeed a more socially connected web that people can contribute as much as they can consume (Anderson, 2007). Since, social networking system is one of the main categories in web 2.0 technologies. Therefore, the use of Facebook in education is considered as utilising Web 2.0 technologies.
The advantages of using Web 2.0 vary. This technology can provide educators with many good possibilities for engaging their students in desirable practices. For example, peer assessment, collaborative content creation and motivation of students via innovative use of media. All these can be used in the development of authentic learning tasks and even to enhance the students' learning experience (Duffy, 2008).
Besides that, the new Web 2.0 technologies and websites, such as a Twitter, Facebook, Wiki or YouTube provide a new chapter in education on learning. They give new supports to learning, even as they also dismantle some of the learning supports upon which education has depended on so much in the past (Duffy,2008). If we had agreed that changes are occurring across the learning ecology, new conceptualizations would have required in using these emerging technologies. Nonetheless, the impacts of Web 2.0 on the processes and practices of pedagogy should be taken in consideration too.
In short, Web 2.0 is able to show educators some shifting frames of reference to consider in relation to future teaching and learning. Students and educators are now having access to an ubiquitous learning environment where it is so convenient and possible for them to search for, locate, and access elements of learning quickly. Hence, It is indeed possible to use Web 2.0 technology to construct and organize personalized, unique interactions with an educational context (Duffy, 2009). This dynamic and independent learning environment may suggest that Facebook is very potential in future ESL class. The next section will discuss on CALL.
2.1.3 Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL)
Computer-assisted language learning is 'the search for and study of computers' applications in language teaching and learning' (Levy, 1997: 1). In fact, if educators were to use Facebook as a venue for language learning, then this type of learning method is known as Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). CALL is used to refer to the use of technology in relation to second language teaching and learning. CALL is also a method in which a learner uses computer as a tool to improve his or her language. Since 1980's till present, most of us are experiencing integrative CALL. Nevertheless, if students were to learn English through Facebook, this method is known as web based CALL.
Furthermore, there are few reasons which may support my stand for using this web based CALL i.e. Facebook to learn English. First of all, this type of learning is experiential, motivating and it can enhance student's achievement. Secondly, this authentic environment can help students to have better communication especially through online discussion board or chat room. Thirdly, it may enhance critical thinking as there is no right or wrong answer when they post a comment on Facebook. In fact, it would not be too far-fetched to say that Facebook is a social network system that can help students to understand an idea globally. They can connect to the rest of the world just through a few taps on the keys of the computer. It will give them unprecedented access to colossal amount of information.
However, with the increasing use of computer in language learning, Chapelle(1997) remind researchers to address critical questions that concerned on the information that ESL learners produce in language learning activities through computer. The other important issue is the quality of this computer assisted language learning experience. The next topic will explore on how Facebook can be an educational tool to help ESL learners in acquiring second language.
2.1.4 Second Language Acquisition
Second language acquisition (SLA) research emphasizes that the facilitation of literacy development can be done by giving multiple opportunities for ESL learners to interact in a context with authentic, linguistically challenging materials, which are relevant to the personal and educational goals (Krashen, 1982). According to Swain's output hypothesis (1985), the learner's output is important in promoting acquisition of second language. Second language learners need opportunities for what he calls "pushed out". This is to develop specific grammatical feature that does not seem to be acquired by learning to comprehend input only. Therefore, the use of computers in CMC activities appears to provide this essential opportunity that Swain had described.
Furthermore, Warshauer (1999) also stated that pedagogy of vital inquiry and problem solving may provide the context for "authentic and collaborative projects and analyses" (p.16). All these are supported through the use of electronic technologies in which ESL students can acquire linguistic, social and technological competencies key to literacy in a digital world.
Last but not least, according to 1995, 1997, 2004 and 2009 reports which are published by department of education in The United States, "technology is an important enabler for classes organised around complex, authentic tasks" and when "used in support of challenging projects, technology can contribute to students' sense â€¦ they are using real tools for real purposes" .These statements indicate that the use of technology increase students' motivation. It also helps to promote their active engagement with English language via some authentic and challenging tasks that are quite interdisciplinary in nature. Hence, this shows that the use of Facebook might be a tool that is useful to initiate learning process. Moreover it is interactive. The next section will look at Interaction Hypothesis and Computer Mediated Communication.
2.1.5 Interaction Hypothesis and Communication Mediated Communication(CMC)
The interaction Hypothesis claims that acquisition is promoted when the input which learners are exposed is made comprehensible through the interaction modifications that arise when the meaning is negotiation. By providing additional possibilities in receiving input and producing output in the target language, communicating through the electronic medium can establish a rich context for language development to take place. So, the use of Facebook is indeed very potential since most of the students love to use Facebook.
Computer mediated communication (CMC) provides authentic synchronous and asynchronous communicative channels. It can be in several forms, either one-to-one, one-to-many or even many-to-one. For example, students can use to Facebook as a tool to share their texts or multimedia materials among their classmates or even general public. This is a method of communication too. Immediacy can also be conveyed through computer-mediated communication too. Facebook appears to be an ideal and effective medium for communicating immediacy in both verbal formats, including self disclosure, nice comments, and birthday greetings. Meanwhile, nonverbal formats include personal photos and visual gifts such as Hatching Eggs or Flowers. Facebook potentially provides a way for teachers to build positive relationships with students.
Other than that, Salaberry (1996: p.22) adds that computer mediated communication to the set of pedagogical issues in relation to research on computer assisted learning. He states that this tool of learning generates high levels of interactivity. To sum up Section 2.1, it is thus of interest to examine the potential of Facebook in ESL classrooms with respect to the relevant hypotheses and recent insights of Second Language Acquisition and Communicative Language Learning approach.
2.2 Related research studies
Recent studies on Facebook in ESL classroom are fewer. However, there are still some good studies done in this area, which are vital to see more researchers make the best out of this powerful new tool in teaching. A glance through literature reveal that Facebook, a form of computer-mediated communication has made its way into language learning. Most of the researchers reveal that using Facebook is a form of effective communicative tool in 21st century. While this innovative approach to language teaching and language learning still suffers from lack of extensive theoretical research.
2.2.1 Research on "Facebook in the Language Classroom: Promises and Possibilities"
This research was done by Geraldine Blattner and Melissa Fiori from USA and the journal can be found in International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, January 2009, Vol. 6. No.1. According to their findings, technology is indeed an inherent part of our daily activities. Windham (2005) also reported that many students expect the use of technology to be part of Higher Education. Meanwhile, Georgina & Olson (2008) pointed out that many research recognizes its importance due to this trend. Hence, since students have a positive impression of educators who implement and integrate high-tech e-learning tools in classrooms practice (Imus et al., 2004), many faculties from various disciplines are discussing on how to adjust pedagogical practices to reflect norms and expectations of ESL learners.
Facebook's popularity is indisputable. As Prensky (2007) stated that the 21st century will be characterized by enormous and exponential technological change. So, as an educator, it is important to take in consideration the advantages of such educational technological tools to enhance language education. It can help to abandon our pre-digital instinct and release us from comfort zones too. As Prensky (2008) strongly claimed: "We must get our teachers - hard as it may be in some cases - to stop lecturing, and start allowing students to learn by themselves" (p. 3). As Knobel (1998) also state:
"It is important to recognize that learning networks are much more than mere infrastructures: they are also relationships. What makes for a computer-learning network is both the existence of hardware and software wired together, and the "coming together" of people in learning relationships mediated by the network as infrastructure."
The learning network that is referenced by Knobel has taken in consideration the Social Network Communities (SNC). It is undeniable that Facebook is a huge SNC that had boasted more than 100 million of members.
Geraldine Blattner and Melissa Fiori also suggest that future efforts should focus on different ways to utilize Facebook and other emerging technology possibilities. So, this research on exploring the potential of Facebook is ESL classroom is up-to-date. It shall review the papers on teaching and learning with Facebook too.
2.2.2 Research on Teaching and Learning with Facebook
As far as the issue is concerned, Facebook is receiving a lot of attention from university or college administrators as a very potential recruitment tool, alumni tool, and also as a way to help new and current students acclimate to and thrive in university and college life (Eberhardt, 2007). Many Faculty members are paying attention to Facebook too. Nonetheless, "Teaching and Learning with Facebook," hosted by Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg also suggests that many educators are interested in the potential of Facebook in teaching and learning. Although the connection between the use of Facebook and student engagement is not yet available in the literature, there is good data on the use of technology and student engagement. For example, from the research by Laird & Kuh (2005), they find a very positive link between the use of informational technology and engagement in effective educational practices such as academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, and engagement in effective educational practices.
Based on a presentation at the "2009 Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education" conference in Charleston, South Carolina, Caroline Lego Muñoz from Fairleigh Dickinson University, The United States and Terri L. Towner from Oakland University, The United States have presented their findings about teaching and learning with Facebook. They state that Facebook's networking and its social communication capabilities can actually benefit both the educator and the students by tapping into various of learning styles. Facebook can even provide another alternative to the traditional lecture method. Moreover, Facebook can help to create an online classroom community that increase the interaction between teacher and student.
2.2.3 Research on "Meeting Students where they are: Inviting Facebook into the Classroom"
Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe (2007) suggest that Facebook is used in maintaining those existing offline relationships or even solidify the offline connections.Although these relationships may just a weak tie, there is some usual offline elements among individuals who friend one another, for example a shared class at school.
Facebook offers the potential for varying levels of self-disclosure based on personal choice. While Petronio (2002) states that teachers must examine culture, motivation, individual differences, situations and gender when deciding how much to self-disclose. Mazer, Murphy & Simmonds (2007) suggest when a teacher self-discloses certain information on Facebook, such as pictures and messages, students perceptions of teacher and student similarity increase and they may feel more comfortable communicating with the teacher in and out of the classroom. Therefore, when students perceive a teacher in attempting to foster positive relationships with them via the use of Facebook, it may have a positive influence on learning outcomes (Mazer et al., 2007). However, teachers' self-disclosure on Facebook and their teaching style in the classroom should be consistent. Indeed, the basic components of a relationship must be present in a face-to-face context for these relationships to continue virtually through mediated relationships, including Facebook (Clark, Shu- Yueh & Boyer, 2007).
According to Gass and Selinker (2008), promoting a community of learners is very useful as it often brings positive impacts towards affective learning. Moreover, students' motivation is a superb predictor of success in English language classes. Besides that, this Social Network Community can also impact vital aspects of second language development itself.
Last but not least, drawing from the above interactionist SLA research studies and the various recent studies on, it is obvious that many language opportunities in Facebook. As there is not any previous study on the potential of Facebook in ESL classroom done in Malaysia to date, the present research hopes to fine tune on my proposition on why Facebook should be integrated into Malaysian ESL classroom.