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Enhancing Community among Discover Chicago Students Using Facebook Amber Settle (CDM) DePaul 2009 Faculty Teaching and Learning Conference April 17, 2009
Chicago Quarter classes • Course content • Academic subject with a strong connection to the people, communities, and institutions of Chicago • Common Hour: Co-curricular component designed to facilitate students’ transition to the college experience • Important characteristics • Traditional and experiential pedagogy • Strong emphasis on mentoring and advising • Discover Chicago • Immersion Week prior to the start of the quarter (5 days and 35+ hours) • Teaching team: Faculty, student, and staff
Discover Chicago: The Digital Divide • Developed by Gian Mario Besana • Textbook for the course • Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide • Mark Warschauer • 2003 (primarily written in 2001) • Digital divide: “The gap between those who do and do not have access to computers and the Internet” • Supplementary reading • Government reports on the digital divide • Information about the Community Technology Center movement • Popular press articles on technology access and training
Facebook • Breadth of use • Online social networking community • 85% of students at participating institutions have accounts; 60% of students log into the site daily (Arrington 2005) • Study at CDM (Mittleman) shows that 68% of undergraduates use social networking sites weekly • Mixed reactions/results • N. Ellison, C. Steinfield, and C. Lampe, 2007: Strong association between use of Facebook and the three types of social capital • A. Hewitt and A. Forte, 2006: 30% of students did not believe faculty should be on Facebook • M.J. Bugeja, 2006: Negative faculty reaction to Facebook (and technology) use by students
Digital Divide Facebook group • Created in 2007 • Inspiration of the student mentor (Julie Hardesty) • Open to all DePaul students • Created as a page for current students and alumni • Students from 2006, 2007, and 2008 were all invited to join the group • Group usage • Photos • Typically from Immersion Week, posted by both students and Teaching Team members • Wall posts about course work and questions (limited) • Links related to course topics • Messaging used for group communication
Benefits • Creates a sense of community • Sharing photos from Immersion Week • Inspired independent photo albums • Incorporate new classmates into existing social structures • Postings to each other’s wall • Spontaneous lunch reunion • Discussion of social events and plans • Excellent example of a resource unavailable to those on the other side of the digital divide
Obstacles • Not all students are on Facebook • Distance between faculty and students • Buy-in is better when the student mentor actively participates • 2007 group members: 75% of class • 90% of students were “friends” with student mentor • 2008 group members: 55% of class • 44% of students were “friends” with student mentor • (retroactive) 2006 group members: 60% of class • 50% of students were “friends” with student mentor • Students are accustomed to peer-to-peer interactions • Discomfort “friending” a faculty member • Faculty comments can kill socially-oriented threads (even for the student mentor)
Issues to consider • Faculty member must balance: • Personal touch with students • Interests: Books, movies, music • Maintaining neutrality • Political affiliations (NO) • Religious beliefs and group membership (Carefully) • Comments to colleagues and friends • Success of early vs. later invitation • Percentage of class who “friend” faculty instructor • 2006 (post quarter): 75% • 2007 (mid-Immersion Week): 65% • 2008 (first day of Immersion Week): 55% • More interaction in person means more comfort online • Be supportive but not intrusive
References • Arrington, Michael, “85% of college students use Facebook”, TechCrunch, Sept. 7, 2005. • M.J. Bugeja, “Facing the Facebook”, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2006. • http://www.vpss.ku.edu/pdf/PSDC%20Facing%20the%20Facebook.pdf • N. Ellison, C. Steinfield, and C. Lampe, “The Benefits of Facebook ‘Friends’: Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites”, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Blackwell Publishing, 2007. • http://www.mvirtual.com.br/midiaedu/artigos_online/facebook.pdf • A. Hewitt, A. Forte, “Crossing boundaries: Identity management and student/faculty relationships on the Facebook”, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 2006. • http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~aforte/HewittForteCSCWPoster2006.pdf