The academic journey of university students on Facebook: an analysis of informal academic-related activity over a semester
This paper reports on an observation of 70 university students’ use of their personal social network site (SNS), Facebook, over a 22-week university study period. The study sought to determine the extent that university students use their personal SNSs to support learning by exploring frequencies of academic-related content and topics being discussed. The findings reported in the paper reveal that students used their personal SNSs to discuss academic-related topics, particularly to share experiences about doing work or procrastinating, course content and grades. Mapping academic-related activity frequencies over the 22 weeks illustrated that around certain points in the academic calendar, particularly times when students’ assignments or exams were nearing, academic activity increased, suggesting that SNSs may play an important role in a students’ academic experience.
The findings suggest that many students today may be leaving traces of their academic journey online and that academics should be aware that these interactions may also exist in their own students’ online social spaces. This study offers opportunities for future research, particularly research which seeks to determine differences between individuals’ academic activity, the extent that intensive SNSs use supports or distracts students from learning, as well as the extent to which universities should or can harness SNSs to improve the student experience.
Keywords: informal learning; social networking; Facebook; university students; social network sites
As the public debated the merits of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs and its close ties with the technology companies that hold so much of the world’s personal data, an Austrian developer named Wolfie Christl arrived in New York City to receive an award for a video game he created, in which the player’s objective is to collect and sell as much private information as possible. The free online game is called Data Dealer. Using hackers, detectives, and Internet business schemes, you amass a cache of fictional private information, and then sell that data to corporations (like Star Mart), health-insurance companies, and the faintly disguised Central Security Agency. Christl and his small team originally released the game to German-speaking countries in April, 2012, and recently expanded it internationally with an English version. “At the moment, there is all this Prism and N.S.A. scandal, and for sure, information about people is often given by private companies to governmental agencies,” Christl told me. “In our game, you are selling the information to the government. In real life, you just give it away for free.” He erupted with a hearty laugh.
WE LIVE in an age of distraction. Teenagers tap text messages during dinner; students idly surf the Web instead of taking notes in class; office workers add to their Amazon wish lists. It's not just...
How much access to your (and your friends') personal data are you prepared to share for access to free mobile apps? I suspect the amount is significantly less than that which you actually agreed to share when blindly accepting the Terms of Service.
Beyond increasing the amount of information that students can access, the new abundant economy of information has far greater implications. It represents both a shift in the way that future classrooms will operate as well as in the student behaviors that we will value and expect.