1 CICE / ISCAP Polytechnic of Porto & CRACS / INESC TEC (PORTUGAL)
2 CRACS / INESC TEC & University of Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 8447-8455
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.0971
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
The exponential growth of social media usage and the integration of digital natives in Higher Education Institutions have been posing new challenges to both traditional and technology-mediated learning environments. Nowadays social media plays an important, if not central, role in society, for professional and personal purposes. However, it’s important to highlight that in the mind of a digital native, social media is not just a tool; it is a place that is as real and as natural as any real-life world place where formal/informal social interactions happen. Still, formal higher education contexts are still mostly imprisoned in locked up institutional Learning Management Systems, while a new world of social connections grows and develops itself outside schools. One of the main reasons we believe to be persisting in the origin of this matter is the absence of a suitable management, monitoring and analysis tools to legitimize and to efficiently manage the educational and social relationship with students in social networks.

In this paper we discuss the growing relevance of the “Social Student Relationship Management” concept and introduce the EduBridge Social system, which aims at connecting the most commonly used LMS, Moodle, and the most popular social network, Facebook. We describe the motivation underlying this need and its benefits. We, then, focus on the Facebook social network and on its groups as a privileged environment for discussions, much in the same line as forums, however, with much more flexibility. We stress the importance of “social media” groups, relating a case study using Facebook and reporting on the results.

Using these findings we propose a system that is able to access, retrieve and analyse Facebook groups that are used in courses, through the Moodle system. The system bridges one learning management system with a social network in a transparent way. The system is based on a set of Moodle blocks that share a communication engine and a database, stored locally. The system’s architecture is based on the “model–view–control” pattern, implemented through five modules.

In the paper we describe four of the system’s blocks: “Facebook Groups”, “Facebook Posts & Comments”, “Facebooks Statistics” and “Total Statistics”; the last block is needed to for the authentication procedure, which is performed by Facebook but through Moodle. In the paper we also describe the system’s user interface with several examples taken from its real usage.

While the modules “Facebook Groups” and “Facebook Posts & Comments” are useful to access the Facebook groups from Moodle, and switch between them, the two statistics modules, besides presenting basic metrics (as number of likes, posts, comments and shares), reveal relevant interactions between group participants. These modules are able to detect and present: “clusters” (students that always participate in the same discussions), “bridges” (students that connect different clusters), and “hubs” (students that are likely to engage other students in conversations). The access to the Facebook groups, and the set of social network analysis performed by the system based in the interaction patterns us to compare one class interactions, which ultimately can be used to predict future behavior and grade tendency.
Social Student Relationship Management, Educational Communication, Learning Management System, Facebook Groups, Moodle.