What can we learn from Facebook? #lak13


Social media is everywhere. 21st Century literacy is changing rapidly. What are the learning implications of new media literacy? We need now to communicate across cultures as well as distance and different media types. What are the skills we need to be successful?

Ahn’s study looked at several types of engagement/skills that we might use on fb:

  • play – the ability to tinker and test performance, taking on different identities stimulation, ability to create new environments
  • appropriation – that it is easy to copy and create new artefacts
  • multi tasking – ability to switch between tasks simultaneously
  • distributed cognition – how we use tech to enhance cognitive abilities collective intelligence, now we have access to each other, how do we effectively collaborate with each other
  • judgement – analysing
  • transmedia – follow trajectory of stories
  • networking – leveraging a group for own benefit.
  • negotiation – different cultures and groups that we are part of.

This was an opportunity to collect trace data about people and gain useful insights about what they are learning, with a focus on behaviours, dispositions… Ahn ran an exploratory study, is fb data clustered into distinct behaviours? Do we do things on fb that we don’t do elsewhere? Do these behaviours correlate with new media literacy skills? He conducted a survey using some demographic data and tried to measure negotiation, networking, judgment and play, multitasking, remixing and transmedia navigation. He counted emails sent and received, number of friends, the friends lists (colleagues, close friends etc), how many links shared, how many member pages, number of networks affiliated with, notes, photos, status messages, videos and wall posts. Analysed this data for co-variance and correlation. He found 4 factors:

  1. emails written, emails received,  relate to messaging info sharing
  2. info sharing, status, friend lists etc cluster into this behavior
  3. friending behaviour, linked to number of friends, notes and video post had negative link
  4. affiliation, number of networks

Unsurprisingly, messaging was a strong indicator of comfort in negotiation. Info sharing and affiliation were high indicators of networking. But being an avid fb user was not linked to good multitasking. No surprise there, as I tell my daughter often (as she does her homework whilst on fb….)

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About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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