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  1. Get your Face out of MySpace Joanna Jones, University of Wales, Newport Edward Jones, University of Wales, Newport

  2. Introduction to Social Network Sites (1) • boyd & Ellison (2007) define social network sites as: • Web based services that allow individuals to 1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, 2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and 3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. (p20) • Popular sites in the UK include: Facebook, MySpace, Bebo

  3. Introduction to Social Network Sites (2) • Ofcom (2008) reported that : • 22% of adult internet users (16+) have set up a profile on at least one social network site • this rises to 49% of 8-17 year olds • In February 2009, Facebook reported having reached 175 million active users worldwide • There is growing evidence that the average age of social network users is increasing • Key features of social networks are: persistence; searchability; replicability; invisible audiences

  4. HE Context – Engagement with Students via Social Networks (1) • Points that Educators may wish to consider: • The ‘feel’ and cultural dimension of each SNS is different; cannot assume that all students will feel comfortable with Facebook • Studies have indicated that students on campus are more likely to utilise Facebook groups than those living at home • the term ‘ friend’ in a SNS sense is complex and may impact upon a student’s willingness to communicate with faculty

  5. HE Context – Engagement with Students via Social Networks (2) • Points that Educators may wish to consider: • Research shows that students often misunderstand who can view their profiles and who cannot • US universities have been found to monitor Facebook Group activity and have disciplined students as a result • E-professionalism is becoming a growing concern, particularly in the context of ‘persistence’

  6. Student Perspective – do they wish to communicate with faculty via social networks? • Many students perceive SNS to be their space (and even think that their profiles could not / would not be viewed by people in ‘power positions’) • US studies have indicated that students do not feel comfortable with engagement with faculty via SNS ( “ I’d feel odd if a lecturer “poked” me”) • JISC study participants felt that: • SNS systems put in place by a teacher can feel fake • Relationship with teacher impacts upon acceptance of technology usage • Only 38% agreed that it was a good idea for teachers to use social networks

  7. Faculty Perspective – do they wish to communicate with students via social networks? (1) • “people also tend to get carried away on Facebook and disclose information about themselves that would normally be kept private” • “more I interact with students via a social network the more informal the relationship becomes with students. I feel that the message / teaching will become more diluted.” (Accounting Lecturer) • “I also think that they’re a young person’s domain. • “Boundaries are being eroded and people are not aware of this. Society in general is not respecting natural boundaries” (HR Lecturer)

  8. Faculty Perspective – do they wish to communicate with students via social networks? (2) • “computing students do communicate via social networks but this is usually a social thing” • “we have to monitor the use. We set up a website for the Games Society and we had to take it down as some of the comments being made could be said to be libellous” (Academic Leader – Computing) • “The fact that someone can go on at 2 o’clock in the morning when they’re drunk and make comments that in the cold light of day they would never have said, and the speed at which these comments can travel is very concerning”. (Marketing Lecturer)

  9. Faculty Perspective – do they wish to communicate with students via social networks? (3) • “Do not like the idea of my information being available online, but I think I will be forced to use them in the future as they become a part of everyday life” (Marketing Lecturer) • “social networks are becoming a part of everyday lives so as lecturers we have a responsibility to students to enlighten them to the world. So academics should have an understanding of social networks so that they have a better understanding of their students” (Accounting Lecturer) • “ I think undergraduate students may want to communicate via SNS rather than professional students, however, I expect this to change over time” (Academic Leader – Accounting)

  10. In Conclusion….. • Perhaps it is erroneous to assume that all students currently wish to communicate with faculty via SNS • Lecturing staff have varied concerns relating to their ability and willingness to engage • But (perhaps) as a minimum educators need to be familiar with the phenomenon in order to best understand their current and future students