STUDENT FACEBOOK GROUP AS A DISCUSSION PLATFORM FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES

S. Athanassopoulos , K. Lavidas , V. Komis 

University of Patras (GREECE)
Social networks are utilized more and more in our daily lives. Facebook is one of the most popular Social Networks mainly among young people. Many studies have investigated the use of Facebook groups (FG) for academic purposes. More of them have investigated the FG as a learning support and material repository platform, and less as a discussion platform. In this research, we investigated the potential use of university students' FG as a discussion platform. In this way, we explored the students’ posts on the FG of the Department of Educational Science and Early Childhood Education at the University of Patras. Specifically, we recorded the 1547 students' posts (activity) for a whole academic year and analyzed them using the thematic content analysis method. For each post, we recorded the number of characters, the words, the date, the “likes” and the number of students who responded. Moreover, we categorized the posts that employed the students in five issues: “Teaching courses” (22%), “Exams” (29%), “Course context” (29%), “Academic staff” (8%), “Faculty practical Issues in terms of studies” (12%). In parallel, we mainly observed that the posts’ categories have similar distribution across the various periods except for the posts’ category about “exams”. Students during the examination periods presented more posts than other periods. Implications for using e-learning systems and educational policy are discussed.