IN AND OUT UNIVERSITY CLASSROOMS: FACEBOOK AS A TOOL OF CONSTRUCTION OF KNOWLEDGE
Nowadays social networks can be considered as psycho-technological environments (De Kerckove, 1999) with a high identity-making value. Pedagogy cannot ignore these new places, with the aim of making formal training increasingly more ‘connected’ to informal training through Social networks, as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr.
This paper aims to present an action-research that is based on new and innovative ways to incorporate technology and social media into teaching methodology (Joosten, 2012), as forms of distance and online education programs.
While until now most popular researches try to study the social network influence on young people and on their academic performances (Helou & Rahim, 2012), to analyse the content of user profiles, and try to diversify users and nonusers, our action-research explores the pedagogical relevances of Facebook in interactive laboratorial experiences, carried out with graduating students in the academic year 2012/2013 at the University of Naples "Federico II". We tried to implement frontal lessons with social networks technologies creating a closed group on Facebook and adopting a questionnaire (created ad hoc and tested with a pilot study) to evaluate students’ beliefs on educational scopes of Facebook and its usefulness for teaching learning.
Through the exploratory experience of the Facebook groups, students have also realized that externalization/construction of meaning and knowledge is not an individual but a social community act. The appearance, therefore, more interesting is the ability for students to turn knowledge from tacit to explicit. Using metaphors, analogies, and especially through reflections on experiences in common, students are able to explain and to share knowledge, which is difficult to express through purely frontal teaching methods. Teachers, as “digital immigrants”, do not always seem to grasp the potentiality of social networks, which are the preferential medium of exchange and self-representation of their students, considered as “native digitals” (Prensky, 2001). Native digitals require a rethinking of the traditional didactic structure, employing e-learning usability.
The surprising results of our research demonstrate that according to students, Facebook should be useful for educational practices, first as a platform and as an open virtual space for instructional materials and sharing narratives, second as a virtual community of research, where it’s possible to co-construct knowledge and reflexion upon contents and upon themselves.
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