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Using the Facebook group as a learning management system: An exploratory study

Authors


  • Qiyun Wang and Choon Lang Quek are associate professors in the Academic Group of Learning Sciences and Technologies at National Institute of Education. Their research interests include web 2.0 tools, online learning, social networking sites for learning and case-based learning environment design. Huay Lit Woo is a lecturer at the same department. His research interest includes e-learning and pedagogical agent. Yuqin Yang is a research associate working on the project of using Facebook for collaborative learning. Mei Liu is a visiting scholar at the National Institute of Education and an associate professor at Linyi University of China.

Dr Qiyun Wang, Learning Sciences and Technologies Academic Group, National Institute of Education, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616, Singapore. Email: qiyun.wang@nie.edu.sg

Abstract

Abstract

Facebook is a popular social networking site. It, like many other new technologies, has potential for teaching and learning because of its unique built-in functions that offer pedagogical, social and technological affordances. In this study, the Facebook group was used as a learning management system (LMS) in two courses for putting up announcements, sharing resources, organizing weekly tutorials and conducting online discussions at a teacher education institute in Singapore. This study explores using the Facebook group as an LMS and the students' perceptions of using it in their courses. Results showed that students were basically satisfied with the affordances of Facebook as the fundamental functions of an LMS could be easily implemented in the Facebook group. However, using the Facebook group as an LMS has certain limitations. It did not support other format files to be uploaded directly, and the discussion was not organized in a threaded structure. Also, the students did not feel safe and comfortable as their privacy might be revealed. Constraints of using the Facebook group as an LMS, implications for practice and limitations of this study are discussed.

Practitioner notes

What is already known about this topic

  • • Facebook has been popularly used by tertiary students, but many students do not want their teachers to be friends on Facebook
  • • Teacher's self-disclosure on Facebook can promote classroom atmosphere, teacher's credibility and student–teacher relationship
  • • Commercial learning management systems (LMSs) have limitations

What this paper adds

  • • The Facebook group can be used an LMS as it has certain pedagogical, social and technological affordances
  • • Students are satisfied with the way of using the Facebook group as an LMS
  • • Younger students are more acceptable with the idea of using the Facebook group as an LMS
  • • Using the Facebook group as an LMS has limitations: it does not support other format files; its discussions are not listed in threads; and it is not perceived as a safe environment

Implications for practice and/or policy

  • • The Facebook group can be used an LMS substitute or supplement
  • • Third-party applications are needed to extend the capability of the Facebook group as an LMS
  • • Using Facebook seems to be more appropriate for young learners than adults
  • • Teachers do not have to be students' friends on Facebook.
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