The Universal Appeal of Facebook©: Providing Access to Tertiary Students from Australian Aboriginal Communities

The Universal Appeal of Facebook©: Providing Access to Tertiary Students from Australian Aboriginal Communities

Maree Gruppetta (University of Newcastle, Australia) and Terry Mason (University of Western Sydney, Australia)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2970-7.ch013
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Abstract

The positive and negative aspects of using Facebook© as a crucial communication tool between Aboriginal academics and their Aboriginal students will be discussed within this chapter. Initially, the authors’ use of Facebook © was to provide support for our Australian Aboriginal students within their own communities. The original intention was to supplement existing electronic forums provided by the University to maintain contact with students between study blocks, encourage reluctant technology users to interact online, and build links to the students’ own communities and families. In 2009, the authors’ students were involved in a research project (Milton, Gruppetta, Vozzo & Mason, 2009) and their use of Facebook © to interact with students was recognised as innovative and the authors were encouraged to investigate the potential within another research project (Vozzo, et al., 2011). From a peripheral practice conducted by two Australian Aboriginal academics, the importance of utilizing Facebook © to build social capital and support an Indigenous Academic community has become crucial to the success and retention of our Aboriginal tertiary students. The authors’ most recent research project relies heavily on Facebook © as the main communication tool due to the vast distances between Aboriginal communities in Australia and the variety of technology provided by each state/territory.
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Introduction

This Chapter reports on continuing developments in the use of Facebook © as the most effective communication tool between Australian Aboriginal academics and their Australian Aboriginal tertiary students within the Bachelor of Education (AREP) Course at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) in Australia. The authors acknowledge that ‘Facebook’ is a Trademark and the use of the name is copyrighted as indicated by the initial use of the © symbol. Further reference to Facebook throughout this chapter will omit the symbol to ensure readability, however the authors concede all rights of trademark and copyright remain with the legal owners of Facebook. The positive and negative aspects of using Facebook as a crucial communication tool between Aboriginal academics and their Aboriginal students will be discussed in relation to the available literature on the use of Facebook to support tertiary students and the perceived benefits and detriments involving the use of Facebook in general. Student demographics and the methodologies of two separate research projects conducted over the past three years will be included in order to provide detail of our experiences. Future plans for extending our research in this area will be detailed in the conclusion.

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