Facebook: friend or for of formative feedback?




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Association for Learning Technology



Peer reviewed



Social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, are now synonymous with University students as a mechanism for making and maintaining friendships, arranging social get-togethers and the sharing of photographs (Ipsos Mori, 2007). Such sites adorn the majority of student computer browsers within academic libraries as students keep a window constantly open whilst carrying out scholarly activity. Furthermore, Facebook in particular has been creeping into the classroom and laboratory much to the concern of many academics.A new final year module ‘Advanced Imaging Technology’ within the Faculty of Technology at De Montfort University presented the need to investigate online portals to enable formative peer review of student-generated work. Summative assessment incorporates practical coursework including submission of a portfolio of images captured weekly as part of laboratory sessions throughout the academic year. The ongoing generation of a portfolio, right from the very start of the module, meant feedback to students was essential to ensure that students could share experiences and learn from mistakes. Whilst alternative online tools were considered (Bassford and Ivins, 2009), it was concluded that due to the ever-increasing presence of social networking sites within classrooms, Facebook could be trialed as a tool for students to upload their work for peer review.This poster session continues the module team’s journey into formative peer review tools including student Intellectual Property rights. The project methodology comprises two stages: 1) a survey of students and 2) in-depth interviews of students. The completion of stage one is presented here and describes the user perceptions and experiences of using Facebook for peer review. The results so far suggest that the majority of students consider Facebook to be a useful or very useful tool, with more than 90% claiming to post their work regularly to the group. Surprisingly, almost all of the students (85%) did not object at all to being contacted via Facebook, some even stating that it was better than using the University email system. Differences between female and male user perceptions were also compared. Stage two will involve in-depth interviews to establish if Facebook is friend or foe of informal peer review.Ipsos Mori, Student Expectations Study. 2007. Joint Information Systems Committee. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/studentexpectations.pdfBassford, M. and Ivins, J. Forthcoming. Enhancing peer review via social networking sites. British Journal of Educational Technology.



Learning Technology, Formative feedback, Peer review, Social networking


Bassford, M. and Ivins, J. (2009) Facebook: friend or for of formative feedback? The 16th Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-CLearning Technology Conference (ALT-C 2009). Held 8–10 September 2009,University of Manchester.


Research Institute