University of Alicante (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 6068-6074
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Nowadays, social networks represent a mechanism to enhance communication among a group of people and cooperation in common tasks. Moreover, they allow these people to feel part of a community. These features seem appropriate for educational environments encouraging several aspects like: active participation of students in the learning process, self-learning, interaction and motivation of students and the creation of networks to cooperate and interchange ideas. However, the use of social networks in the university environment raises several questions: Does the use of social networks help in the collaborative work? Do students interact to improve the learning process? Is it a suitable mechanism to improve communication? Do appear new roles for students or teachers? In this paper, we aim to solve these questions and study the influence of the social networks in the university environment. Therefore, we present an experiment in which the use of social networks, specifically Facebook, has been analyzed in the educational scope. For the experiment, two collaborative tasks were proposed to the students implied in the experiment. The tasks have to be done at home, not in the class. These tasks are based on the total participation of all the students, in which they must complete a specific issue within the task. This methodology of work foments the horizontal interaction (student-student), and vertical interaction (student-professor). For this reason, it has been decided to use the Facebook tool, since it is a very well-known tool and it is being used by the students of the experiment in their social scope; although for the first time in the educational scope. Besides, the fact that the students must invite teachers to their personal Facebook account implies a problem itself since they feel like their privacy is being invaded. For this reason, a tutorial of privacy administration of Facebook was distributed the first day of class. After the experiment, the students were asked for specific information related to the experience by means of a survey. When analyzing the results of the survey, we reached the following conclusions: 1) there is a more significantly improvement in the communication between professor and student, since the relation between students already existed previously, 2) among the students worries the subject to use a tool of leisure in an educative scope, since they feel his privacy jeopardized and 3) the current social networks lack certain tools that are basic for teaching (like a repository of documents). As a conclusion, it is must be said that social networks cause an extra benefit in teaching and learning but they must be a complement nor a replacement of classroom teaching. Considering all the conclusions, as future work, we want to implement a analysis between different social networks and other current types of e-learning platforms, since it would be interesting to evaluate the use of a hybrid tool that integrates current e-learning tools with the most suitable characteristics for education of a social network.
collaborative learning, social networks.