Who Is Using Facebook Online Learning

Facebook has redesigned its learning courses section and the top-ranked courses are happening in places where users are already sharing lots of information.

Who Is Using Facebook Online Learning

The Harvard Business Review

Facebook has been criticized for its use in education. A study published in February 2018 by Stanford University researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Journal found that the online social media platform significantly increased students’ exposure to a variety of socially ostracizing online identities: single-person, black LGBTQ youth, a group of women who described themselves as “tomboys” and “dorky,” men who post absurd memes, and men who identify as conservatives.

In response to the PNAS report, Kevin Mitchell and colleague James Wyatt made a Facebook model of “risk-taking bias” available to universities to help instructors modify the way they use Facebook. Their examination revealed Facebook’s long-term promise as a driver of student engagement. But for those instructors who don’t want to experiment with new ways of teaching their classes, there is still a role for the platform. Here are some ways that Facebook can help students create wealth or learn to think critically and creatively.

Facebook encourages inclusivity

An open flow of ideas on Facebook gives students, who feel much more empowered online than they would in the real world, a particular sense of confidence. As Eve Segal noted in her study of communication skills in the curriculum at Governors State University (GSU), participants in classrooms that used Facebook reported superior confidence in communicating with peers compared to those in class rooms where students communicated more via IM.

The initial research on the academic benefits of Facebook is mixed. Students in University of California-Irvine and Michigan State University’s (MSU) class “Facebook for Non-Genetically Moderated Adults,” which concludes in May, found that students who used Facebook were better able to resolve conflicts with others, solve problems, and develop relevant skills that would result in academic success. But one study of 322 students from across the nation found that getting students to create a Facebook profile that enabled them to interact with their classmates did not contribute to a higher graduation rate. In other words, individual students were, by and large, unable to adapt their Facebook profile to their interests in order to improve academic performance. Although it may be too early to conclude whether increased digital engagement is leading to academic achievement, students report feeling more comfortable in classrooms with Facebook and are much more likely to find a way to stay connected to peers and professors than they would be without the platform. And, this readiness may be due, in part, to the support that they have received from their classmates.

Facebook empowers students

A recent work by Remi Schuermann and his colleagues surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. college students between the ages of 18 and 20. They found that increased access to social media led to improvements in social intelligence, according to survey results that were published in late 2017 in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. In short, students reported that they knew better when to engage in a conversation and, in general, found it easier to reach a consensus. They also were better able to think critically and write clearly about a topic, to understand how best to answer questions and plan interviews and such.

As a Facebook student, I am more likely to listen to a class discussion because, before class, I actively take part in the discussions that occur online. I’m able to reach out to classmates and offer perspective in a more conscious, assertive, or more creative way. Just as importantly, my interactions on Facebook have helped me experience new and better ways of conversing in person. When, for example, I discovered how much sharing photos and videos of the day with friends actually helped students feel closer to each other, I made sure to use this new experience in my classroom.

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