Facebook & BlackBoard: comparative view of learning environments
Parslow, P., Lundqvist, K. Ø., Williams, S., Ashton, R. and Evans, M. (2008) Facebook & BlackBoard: comparative view of learning environments. In: SSE Systems Engineering Conference 2008, 25-26 Sep 2008, The University of Reading.
For several years, online educational tools such as Blackboard have been used by Universities to foster collaborative learning in an online setting. Such tools tend to be implemented in a top-down fashion, with the institution providing the tool to the students and instructing them to use it. Recently, however, a more informal, bottom up approach is increasingly being employed by the students themselves in the form of social networks such as Facebook. With over 9,000 registered Facebook users at the beginning of this study, rising to over 12,000 at the University of Reading alone, Facebook is becoming the de facto social network of choice for higher education students in the UK, and there was increasing anecdotal evidence that students were actively learning via Facebook rather than through BlackBoard. To test the validity of these anecdotes, a questionnaire was sent to students, asking them about their learning experiences via BlackBoard and Facebook. The results show that students are making use of the tools available to them even when there is no formal academic content, and that increased use of a social networking tool is correlated with a reported increase in learning as a result of that use.
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