When offered a smorgasbord of social media choices, college students have continually chosen Facebook as the best social site for class collaboration. And the reason is simple: Students are most familiar with Facebook.
Colleges and universities have experimented with a host of social networks, but one of the foremost researchers of how students use social sites said Facebook – one of the first networks to gain traction among technology-savvy educators – remains the favorite for organizing group meetings and discussing upcoming assignments and exams.
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Reynol Junco, a faculty member at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania who has conducted several social networking surveys on college campuses over the past year, said that even as social media options have expanded in higher education, students still lobby their professors and instructors for official course Facebook pages.
“One thing has been clear from our observations in those studies: When given the choice of a number of social technologies to use as part of a course, students will overwhelmingly choose Facebook,” Junco wrote in a blog post.
Even when professors didn’t create course Facebook pages, students used Facebook to organize study groups and discuss course readings, Junco wrote.
A college student who responded to one of Junco’s surveys about student reaction to the use of Twitter and Ning in the classroom said Facebook would have been a more natural fit for the class.
“I think [using Facebook] would’ve been easier and a little more comfortable for people because I think pretty much everyone in my class had a Facebook and nobody had either one of these things,” the anonymous student said, referring to the alternative social networks.
Another survey respondent said Facebook would be the most efficient social media tool for educators because “people generally get on there every day [and] they are going to see the stuff and invites a lot quicker than others.”
College students will always use Facebook primarily as a social tool – to scan photos, watch videos, and interact with friends and strangers alike – but official Facebook course pages could convert some of that social use to extended class time.