In this article Paul Kirschner examines the quality of social network sites such as Facebook as learning platform.
- Most SNSs – including Facebook – are more a broadcast tool than a discussion tool.
- Groups of Facebook users (i.e., friends) tend to confirm rather than discuss and/or argue.
- Flat-structured discussions such as what Facebook affords impede discussion and argumentation.
- Most SNSs – including Facebook – are not well-suited for knowledge construction via discussion and argumentation.
Still, I’ve noticed that a lot of my students do use the platform as unofficial learning platform (besides the official learning platform from my institute). They have their own Facebook groups in which they discuss questions they have and share information. I deliberate write information as the few times I’ve seen such a group – most often I’m ‘not allowed’ as their teacher – I’ve seen a lot of practical information rather than in debt discussions.
The second point Paul makes isn’t my experience when looking a bit broader than students, as I’ve seen many heated debate on Facebook (and Twitter) when it comes to topics such as the present refugee crisis. But this can also differ from user to user, so I would rather conclude that the potential is there, but just like often people lurk on fora, this can also be the case on Facebook and co.
That’s why I agree with this quote that Paul cites in the article:
According to Bullen et al., students at university appear not to recognize ‘‘the enhanced functionality of the applications they own and use’’ (p. 7.7) and that they need significant training if they are to be expected to use technology for learning and problem-solving.
Abstract of the study:
Facebook® and other Social Network Sites are often seen by educators as multifunctional platforms that can be used for teaching, learning and/or the facilitation of both. One such strand is making use of them as tools/platforms for using and learning through argumentation and discussion. Research on whether this ‘promise’ is actually achieved – also the research reported on in this Special Issue – does not unequivocally answer the question of whether this is a good idea. This article as one of the two closing articles of this Special Issue discusses Social Networking Sites in general and Facebook specifically with respect to how they are ‘normally’ used by their members as well as with respect to their social and technical features. Then, in light of this, it discusses the learning results of the four studies. It concludes with a short discussion of whether they are capable of meeting the promise that many think they can.