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Facebook as a Part of Learning Tool

1.0 Introduction

Facebook is a social network, with simple application which enables people to link ton one another easily. Besides being a social network facebook can be used as a learning tool. Educators have been finding how facebook can effectively be used as a learning tool. This is because the rates of facebook use lingering around 95 percent. With this fact, it is reasonable for forecast tutors to employ this tool as a technique of interacting with students.

However, there are some challenges which deter this idea; first is the issue of privacy. Facebook being a social network poses many threats of violating the privacy of the users. The other challenge is limited skills of tutors on application of social networkers; it needs a little effort to use facebook effectively as a learning tool. The following is a roadmap for applying facebook effectively as a learning tool.

1.1 Statement of the Problem

Many learning institutions are very proactive in the usage of technology but still the feeling of traditional delivery systems has not left the teachers side. Most learners are today not comfortable with the face to face teaching as an appropriate method to be used for the delivery of both content as well as skill or expertise and require something different and more collaborative.

The introduction of technology such as computers and internet in higher education learning environments requires that certain technologies be implemented and not just the use of the machines for browsing the internet and other applications. Currently a number of institutions recommend the following:

-  Use blogs and RSS feeds instead of newsletters

- Make use of the Web2.0 mapping technologies such as Google Maps to supplement the online versions of the University maps

-  Use social networking technologies to manage course reading probably a collaborative approach that students can benefit from other relevant material within the school or expert area.

-  Use services such as Facebook to build a sense of community amongst international postgraduate students.

This list goes on and on but a problem such as arts drawing and teaching can be very technical but how then can facebook be used effectively to assist the learning of the arts.

1.2 Background and Justification

Students can now engage in virtual designs and this is very interesting especially because the technologies have not been for long in the educational spheres. There are a number of debates about the traditional studio-based learning systems and the focus is generally on learning. There is therefore much need for consideration of digital technologies and their potential in art-based higher education and the impact these technologies have on learning environments.

Social networking and software tools have enabled a platform such as Facebook. This has currently transform the internet platforms, E-learning in Web2.0 having to shift from on-line publishing to a more personal, social and very flexible approach termed by O’Reilly as “architecture of participation’ (2005).

For many decades there has been an interest to venture into different forms of the web based learning to support as also complement the face to face learning methods. Many would wonder how an arts program is going to be approached through the use of social networking tools such as Facebook but there is generally a lot to witness in the field of Web2.0 that will definitely fascinate.

Facebook is an online social networking forum that enables users to share information and keep up with friends, colleagues, and classmates. It is a technology that has been built on a Web2.0 platform which has enabled quiet a number of social networking sites to gain popularity incredibly with the youths (Rudestam & Schoenholtz-Read, 2009).These scholar did find out that social networking sites offer an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos internationally.

Facebook was originally developed and made available for college and university students. It allows students and generally any user to post blogs and bulletins for everyone on a user’s friends list to see. The focus of the learning tools is particularly potent in the following areas:

- Provide anytime, anywhere learning;

- Allow students to become publishers, teachers and creators

- Give access to vast amounts of content

- Increase students’ opportunities to interact with other students, teachers and also the available experts and

-  Extend the learning to the traditionally excluded, to the disabled, and to the global community.

Strategies for Effective Learning with Interactive Tools

In the educational context, attribution is the theory that is much applicable in terms of four basic factors for casual outcomes for the success and/ or failure that can in other terms be referred to as the effectiveness of a learning tool. These factors include luck, ability, task difficulty and effort. Luck and task difficulty are considered as external factors or influences while ability and effort and internal. According to Dabbagh and Kitsantas, luck is normally perceived as being unstable and uncontrollable by the learner whereas task difficulty is perceived as stable and uncontrollable yet relatively stable. Ability, they say is perceived as stable and uncontrollable, whereas effort is perceived as controllable by the learner and could be stable or unstable (2009).

In a learning environment that requires the use of an interactive tool such as Facebook, the attributions have specific influences on a student’s goal setting.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.0 Understanding Facebook

When thinking of facebook as learning tool it is important to understand its capability and limitation. One of the essential things needed to known when viewing facebook as learning tool is the fact that; Facebook is not a blackboard neither is it any other course management system. Facebook is also not a wiki, a blog, or any kind of silver bullet tool. The main use of facebook is administration of social life at college. College has their objective based on academics, facebook serves as a platform for socialization giving student opportunity to intersect with academics, provided that there is limit. Therefore in order to make an effective application of facebook in learning environment, it is important to understand its limitations and apparent use (basically socialization).

2.1 Rationale for Use of Facebook

Since users can browse and access a myriad of resources from the blogs, walls and boards posted on this tool within a learning environment, social networking in arts education will enable the teachers have a responsibility of giving the students skills in how to cope with a virtual relationship and understand what friendships mean in a social culture and the various perspectives of other cultures when it come to drawing and arts education generally. The Web2.0 environment has enabled a number of forums to be included in higher education in order to receive more messages and visits that even when campaign for educational conferences. According to Rudestam & Schoenholtz-Read, educators have begun to realize that social communication is an important aspect of learning (2009).

Secondly, another rationale for usage of facebook for effective learning is the opportunity it provides for the student creativity both in self-presentation through artistic items such as drawings and images or basic structures sketched and posted as well as the creativity attributed on their personal profiles and even group profiles.

In brief the use of Facebook in education of arts is the acknowledgement of the social change that has been spawned. It has given the students the chance and feel of belonging as well as the opportunity to explore their creativity and identity.

There are a number of strengths that are carried along with the Facebook or generally Web2.0 learning tools and these include:

- The wide availability, coverage as well as low barrier to accessibility are very essential qualities that make Facebook a useful educational tool.

-  It offers students and teachers the opportunity to use simulation and the immersion experience that is very powerful in terms of effective communication of a concept.

The expectation of privacy

The issue of privacy is very critical when it come to studying social network. Facebook as social network has exclusive limits as far as privacy is concerned. Students are aware that staff and tutors are on the facebook; however they basically expect that their profile will be scrutinized by their peers. It is thus important for instructors to respect the privacy of individuals.


Facebook users in the college know very well that when staff or any other person in authority gets into their network, there can’t be a good deal. Due to this students, don’t permit staff and other person of that caliber to join their social network life.  Therefore, there should be no expectation that Facebook will allow engagement with all students. We can only respect the student's decision in this matter.


In order to balance facebook effectively as learning tool, profile is very essential factor. When we think of creating a profile, somehow it appears awkward, since at the core site like facebook will seem a little like dating site. Advantageously facebook allows one to put limits on the shared information. Users have an option writing specification a message which is sent to the inbox of the recipient or writing on the wall of the recipient. When the message is sent to the inbox, it is viewed only by the recipient while when message is pasted on the wall is viewed by recipient and his or her friends. It is important for users to note that, they should as much as they feel comfortable.

Viewing facebook as a learning tool it is important to understand what students like in a faculty profile. One of the things student will be interested in is knowing you and especially the personal details. They may also get attracted to some of your favorite books, movies and TV shows. When you exaggerate so much in your profile is not a guarantee of gaining so much, students like to feel connected their tutors. In enhancing the relation or socialization, you can share anything which you are convinced can be shared. What you are interest in is what you share; it may be family guy or the enthusiasms. The other attracting features of the facebook are pictures. Pictures can be used to pass some information or share fun with friends. People upload pictures from family occasions, conferences, and important meetings. It is not advisable to add so many pictures, but a few of them gives humanizing aspect of personal identity. The most important in profile is sharing some information of real you as tutor, and by making these links with the student, you engage them.


It is important to have past relationship in existence, so that the faculty association does not go only one way, which is student-faculty. Nevertheless, this normally happens, students are always interesting in counting faculty as their friends.  As an example to the student, a tutor should create a rich profile so that students can see your concern about facebook. The formation of the rich profile alone is not enough, it is also important to be using it regularly. Through advent of news feeds, student shows that they have become your friend and this will initiate friend request coming along.

The process of finding and establishing new friends is very simple in facebook. It starts by sending friend request and on the other end immediately the approached friend confirms you as a freeing the relationship is established. Once people become friends they are able to freely share information and news. In college students are able to interact with one another and also tutors can effectively communicate to the students via the facebook. 

Crossing contexts

It is very normal when you meet someone you sent email before they respond to enquire if they really got the email. Student likes mostly to communicate through face, implying that they put lots of information about them and their interest on the facebook.  It is also not recommended even for friends to disclose information about their friend through the facebook. Unless a student starts a context-crossing resolution, I believe that it is advisable for persons of power to show the dignity and respect the limitation of the Facebook. Encouragements are good through facebook, especially when one share the hardship she/he is going through. Not only encouragements that are good, but also should congratulate and celebrate with those who are celebrating any event in their live. Yes, respecting contexts is very challenging, however to play nice it should be practiced.  

Where to begin

To get into the social network of facebook the first step is signing up into the system. Once you sign up you becomes a member, one can then proceed in establishing friends and joining groups. It is good to have many friends, or even share your life details; however it is advisable to bulk up on the fundamental areas before taking another step of engagement. Once this has been met it is important to acknowledge that facebook is a social network, and thus you can structure your goals consequently.

Profile-based Engagement

Engagement can be done through the news feed one can directly connect entire group of his or her friend. When you post or share something, all your friends are notified and can comment or give their views of what you have posted. Users can contribute in blog spot, join a group, and attend an event and many other activities. The influence of news feeds is really quite extraordinary. Many people are able to view what you have done every time they log in. With this capability, a tutor can make use of this and actively use their profile and actions in the facebook to influence or be a model to the student which seems to be of great interest. Because of their position, what tutors do attracts student, and they pay attention to the profile changes of their tutors. 

Action-based Engagement

Profile activities can be perceived as normally an engagement, however there other forma of engagement through the social networks. In relation to Facebook, the following are some means through which users engage; creating and sharing events, inviting people to events, redeployment and sharing links, tagging people in photos, forming groups or sending messages. There are other services in facebook that directly support engagement  for example; photos, discussion topics, opinions, groups, events, making use of these will record directly on your students.

The following are some of the effective strategies for engagement

The establishment of groups for broadcasting of information about attractive anything. Student can create groups for their library, clubs and unions, teams or any network group they may like. Groups enable student to associate themselves with something while at the same time acting as source of information. It is important to ensure open groups are formed so that students can join and invite other to join the groups.

Events – Events are can effectively be promoted via the facebook. What one has to do is to create an event, include pictures and invite friends. Open events permits student to pass along the invitation.

Notes - You can integrate a RSS feed into your blog with notes. If you have a RSS feed you'd like to share, you can use notes to share that within the Facebook. For example, if the library has events RSS feed (from a calendar or blog) you could integrate this directly, giving all of your friends access to this information.

So these are fairly direct means - what are some other ways to keep up with students via the Facebook?

Campus ads. Facebook makes it very easy to purchase ads that will appear on profiles. The ads are cheap, and they are cheap for a reason (click through rates on SNS sites are extremely low). If you can create a group or event instead of purchasing an ad, do it. The social/viral forces of groups and events make them much more effective than ads.

Developing a better understanding of your students’ perspectives. This may be the most underappreciated aspect of Facebook. Using the Facebook you can get a glimpse into the interests and insight of your students, hopefully reducing some of the generation gap between you two.

Keeping tabs. I don't encourage spying on students, but Facebook can be used by faculty and staff to get background information on students who are having problems. This is an extremely touchy area, but if a student has serious drug/alcohol problems, is suicidal - the Facebook is a good place to develop background information (and friend contacts) if intervention is necessary. It is also a good place to check up on students who have gone off the radar - if a student disappears, check their Facebook first. Using Facebook for these purposes requires careful handling, but we'd be silly to not admit it is a valuable tool for the people whose job it is to protect students.

The creation of place. The Facebook is a place through which students can engage with you. Perhaps that is the most important take away from this - Facebook is an opt-in information economy. By creating a profile and undertaking these engagement strategies, you've reduced the barriers for students to opt-in to the messages that engage them. You are essentially sharing information at their level, on their terms.

Following on that last point, by being on students’ terms it doesn't mean you're radically changing anything. You may get two extra students to show up at your event after posting it on the Facebook. Facebook isn't a silver bullet, but it is a place for the sharing of information. Being realistic about goals, and understanding that students will selectively opt-in to messages, you'll have a reasonable perspective on how to use this tool to engage with students. By approaching students on their terms, you've taken a very important step in increasing engagement. To that extent, I hope this information has been useful.

Chapter 3: Discussion & Conclusion

3.0 Implication of Web2.0 and Facebook for Effective Usage:

According to Rudestam & Schoenholtz-Read, the most significant factor that will constrain the development of the Facebook Web2.0 platforms for education in Arts is the degree of the unreached, overblown as well as unsubstantiated claims about the effects of the tools on education in general and on young learners specifically.

It has been noted that in the past, teachers engaged in online education always endeavored to deliver their teaching material through content controlled systems well known as Blackboards. Currently, the Web2.0 has enabled a very innovative approach for the online arts education through us of the social networking platforms based on the principle of participation and co-operation between teacher and students as well as other arts and drawing experts. This paradigm shift from traditional delivery systems to collaboration has resulted in the role of teachers changing from being providers of content to participation in the learning process.

The results and the discussion presented above indicate that Facebook as a tool is very helpful but there is need to ensure that the benefit is water down by the misuse. Facebook can function well and there is need to take into consideration certain factors and these include:

- Control of the tools: where the service that is designed to support an arts course is being controlled differently or in very stringent ways such that students cannot benefit from the full potential of the system.

- Ownership: The content provided must be very authentic and that t should be capable of giving guidance to the student and also provide quality material from other experts.

-Content should be moderated for the possibility of removing any offensive or irrelevant material.

In conclusion Facebook will aid the learning processes but the level and ways of assessing the constructiveness or effectiveness will have to be very flexible since not many students would be experts from the start and also many traditional learning systems have affected the teachers and therefore there must be time invested in the training and collaboration efforts to ensure that both the students and the teachers are in agreement about the materials received and the approaches implemented.

Further study must also be conducted to help the conclusive implementation of better and affluent frameworks that can be used or incorporated within Facebook to ensure optimum effectiveness.

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