Use of Facebook as an Informal Photography Education Setting among Open and Distance Learners

Use of Facebook as an Informal Photography Education Setting among Open and Distance Learners

Gulbin Ozdamar Akarcay (Osmangazi University, Turkey) and Nilgun Ozdamar Keskin (Anadolu University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8844-5.ch014
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Social networks refer to the websites providing its users with opportunities to express themselves in online environments, to communicate with other users, to join the groups available on the internet and to contribute to already existing contents with their ideas, comments and similar content. The current study examines the profiles of open and distance learners who joined a particular Facebook group created with a content related to distance education on photography, and their general reasons to use Facebook. The group was created in an informal way by the graduates of Anadolu University Open Education Faculty Photography and Cameraman Education Associate Degree Program. For data collection purposes, the members of this Facebook group were sent a questionnaire. According to the results, it was found that Facebook enables its users to communicate with each other effectively and help them keep their interest in photography in a general sense. In addition, it can be claimed that Facebook encourages lifelong learning and informal learning by facilitating knowledge sharing and communication processes among its users outside the curricula of educational institutions, or the courses or workshops offered by educational or social agencies. Finally, it provides an ideal environment for the learners to share the photographs they take and to receive feedback and comments about these photographs.
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Facebook: A Social Networking Site

Media platforms and online applications are internet-based tools and platforms that increase and facilitate information sharing (Palmer and Lewis, 2009). Also known as social media, these platforms are indispensable communication tools in information societies. When defined with a focus on interpersonal communication, they can refer to a structure where individuals communicate interactively and share their opinions with each other (Poore, 2013). According to another approach, social media are the websites with social content that enable users to express themselves, communicate with others, to join groups and contribute to these groups with their ideas, comments and similar content (Borges, 2009). In this study, social media refers to “social networking sites”.

Rapid increase in the number of social networking sites and high levels of interest by internet users have resulted in more widespread and frequent use of computers. Social networking sites are web-based services that bring different individuals together in a virtual environment. These websites provide their users with opportunities to express themselves, to publish their profiles, and to communicate with others (Binark 2009). Social networking sites require their potential users to fill out a form collecting information about their sex, age, address, educational background, hobbies, areas of interests, skills and tastes in order to sign up for the website. This data is called “profile” and can be accessed by other individuals in most of these sites. Social networking sites also allow users to control the access to their profile content at different levels (Tufekci, 2008).

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