Leveraging Facebook as a Peer-Support Group for Students

Leveraging Facebook as a Peer-Support Group for Students

Joni Salminen (Turku School of Economics, Finland)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5174-6.ch008
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This chapter reports the use of Facebook in a Digital Marketing course in a Finnish university as a peer-support group for a course consisting of 80 marketing students. It identifies seven types of student-/teacher-generated content: (1) course-related posts, (2) substance-related posts, (3) course feedback, (4) course recommendations, (5) event posts, (6) job posts, and (7) business-related posts. It also discusses educators’ problems of using social media as a course support. For example, there is a risk of artificial communication if participation is required but motivation for posting is purely extrinsic. Commercial social networks may be useful in education because they are user-friendly, easy to adopt, and involve less friction than systems isolated from students’ day-to-day usage of the Internet. Peer support frees teachers’ time, but it needs to be devised correctly for students to participate. In practice, the teacher needs to invest time and effort in providing interesting content and guidance. More than technology, barriers of peer support relate to social issues and expertise – the students must differ in their substantive knowledge so that peer support is possible, and students must feel comfortable to ask for and provide help. Interestingly, the drop out of students in the group can be kept low even after the course by posting interesting content. In this sense, the group may demonstrate stronger ties than peer support groups that dissolve after the course.
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The Concept Of Peer Learning

Peer learning takes place when students “discuss lectures, assignments, projects and exams in casual social settings” (Keppell et al., 2006, p. 454). Formal peer learning, then again, is structured into the course and advocated explicitly by the teacher. Webb and Mastergeorge (2003b) argue that self-explanations help students “internalize principles, construct specific inference rules for solving the problem, and repair imperfect mental models” (p. 363). With regard to peer learning via social network sites, it is crucial that these self-explanations are made explicit to others. Second, it is important that students apply the learning from self-explanations into problem solving – otherwise, they risk a false sense of competence (Webb & Mastergeorge, 2003b). Finally, it is important that errors and shortcomings are revealed during the process of problem solving, as it may activate the group as a whole to provide support in finding better solutions (ibid.).

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