Sue Will

  • Goodbye face to face hello Facebook

    Sue Will and Julie Fowlie, University of Brighton

    Research seminar

    Themes: teaching methods, course and programme design, graduate outcomes, supporting learners

    Tuesday 8 September 2009, 10.10 - 11.10 in room G60

    The research investigates innovative ways of using technology to support learning when dealing with large numbers of students within the Brighton Business School (BBS).  The BBS mentoring project covers around 650 students as a combined total of first and final year students.

    This research project investigates if social network sites can be used to help develop a more effective mentoring relationship between first and final year students within the Brighton Business School. It also seeks to determine if the quality of the relationship is improved by encouraging students to keep in contact and share experiences of learning with each other in this way. In particular it seeks to:

    • To maintain and develop an exciting, relevant, up to date and engaged curriculum
    • To encourage and enable innovation and leading-edge practice in use of learning technologies.
    • To further the development of creative relationships between teaching and learning and economic and social engagement.

    Facebook is a framework that is familiar to most students and is used by a large proportion to share information and exchange knowledge and ideas. Although it is primarily a social network site it has the potential for use in other ways for example in a mentoring capacity. The project is therefore seeking to engage with student learning in a medium and space that is already utilised by them without being potential seen as university initiated.  It also provides a virtual tutor presence whereby the course tutors can respond to student’s queries giving guidance and support when necessary.

    The work is informed and supported by a theoretical context to include aspects of communication strategy, interpersonal behaviour and emotional intelligence. A range of key theorists are used to underpin the research and provide a body of knowledge against which social network sites can be explored. Development in new technologies is also reviewed in relation to understanding the potential purpose of social network sites.

    The research follows an interpretivist approach within the framework of a case study. The methodologies employed involve the setting up of a Facebook account and establishing a BBS Mentoring Group page. First and final year students are invited to join the ‘Group’. Activity is monitored on how the site is used by students in terms of the transactions carried out and its usefulness in formulating and maintaining the mentoring relationship. A series of questionnaires to both first and final year students provide data on usage and relevance. This is followed up by a series of focus groups in order to obtain more specific and detailed information for analysis.