Teacher and learner readiness to use Facebook for learning in an Australian vocational setting

Abstract:
Tertiary institutions are increasingly requiring teachers to use social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook or Twitter within teaching designs. SNS can provide an avenue for students to collaborate and share information and can create a sense of belonging and commitment to learning. Few studies have focused on SNS within Australian vocational learning settings, or understanding the factors that influence teacher and learner readiness to enact a policy that would require the uses of an SNS within formal learning designs. This qualitative study focussed on a sample group of teachers (n=40) and students (n=19) across two teaching areas from one Australian vocational educational Institute to answer the question: What factors influence teacher and student readiness to use Facebook for learning in an adult vocational educational setting? Readiness was understood as the difference between the amount of energy required for the change (load) and the amount of energy the individual has available (power). Determining readiness involves evaluation of teacher and students’ attitudes and beliefs, their current skills and knowledge and any barriers affecting their motivation or willingness to change, which all affect their levels of power and perceived load. A15 item questionnaire for teachers and students and semi structured focus groups were conducted for teachers and students, and coded thematically. The teachers and students both recognised potential learning benefits in using Facebook included collaboration amongst students through sharing resources, knowledge and ideas, increased communication with fellow peers and teacher, and a platform that was familiar and used frequently by students. Students were already using closed Facebook groups for collaborating, networking and sharing ideas outside of the traditional classroom hours of learning, and with other students that they may not know personally. However teachers experienced greater load factors than students as they had differing perceptions on the purpose, types of device and understanding of the social norms and etiquette of Facebook. By understanding these load factors, policy designers and leaders can better understand what structural and professional learning needs could be designed into the policy theory of action. The significant differences between teacher and student perceptions and readiness has implications for policy design.

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