MAKING ‘FRIENDS’ IN THE CLASSROOM: USING FACEBOOK TO IMPROVE THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN MARKETING EDUCATION

The emergence of the so-called Web 2.0 and the multitude of social networking applications have provided educators with a vast range of opportunities to enhance the learning experience in traditional classroom-based university education. The technological developments in the Internet present educators with easy and often free access to tools which facilitate the addition of a virtual or online element to traditional or ‘offline’ education. Indeed, traditional university education can now benefit from its face-to-face contact with students ,as well as the virtual classroom, which until recently was generally limited to online education institutions.

This paper reports on the experience of creating a virtual classroom using Facebook. The project was undertaken at a public university in Spain, involving two introductory undergraduate courses on marketing. Students were invited to join the Facebook group and to take part in a pilot study whose main goal was to explore how the Facebook platform could be used to improve the learning experience in marketing education. A number of focus groups were carried out with the students to explore the issues that emerged during the course of the semester. A questionnaire was also utilised to gauge how students valued the experience. A number of conclusions are presented based on this experience and recommendations are made for adopting the social network in university education.