The opportunities and the challenges of Facebook for Indonesian teachers and educators: What's politics got to do with it?

Year: 2017

Author: Patahuddin, Sitti

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Facebook has a reputation as a popular social channel. However, its use as a professional development platform has been observed but not well understood. The aim of this study was to investigate Facebook usage by Indonesian teachers and educators (n=816). This paper addresses the questions: (1) To what extent do Indonesian teachers and educators engage with Facebook? and (2) what are the opportunities and challenges of Facebook engagement for their professional development?

Data was collected from an online survey administered through Qualtrics across a 6-week period. Survey participants were required to meet two criteria 1) they had to be an Indonesian teacher or educator and 2) they needed to have a Facebook account. Failing to meet these criteria excluded respondents from participating in the survey. As a result, from 1434 initial responders, 1336 were eligible to complete the survey. Of those eligible to participate, 816 respondents (53% males, 47% females) completed the entire survey. The participants were distributed within 33 out of 34 Indonesian provinces.

Descriptive statistics indicated a high level of engagement in Facebook with 90% of respondents checking their Facebook profile on a daily basis and nearly 40% using FB for between 1-3 hours a day. There were also high levels of connectivity across FB with respondents averaging over 1000 Facebook friends and approximately 80% participating in more than 6 Facebook groups (FGs), indicating a broad number of networks. Factor analysis on educational usage of Facebook identified three key factors: Facebook for sharing and collaboration; for seeking related professional resources, and reading/discussing general educational information.

Qualitative data analysis was conducted within one disciplinary area (mathematics), examining the reasons behind engagement in their most liked FGs. Almost 600 different FGs were identified by 440 mathematics teachers and educators. These groups were considered beneficial for the respondents' professional needs. By contrast, there were some challenges identified in using FGs associated with the content (e.g., spam), membership (e.g., distracted) and group administrations (e.g., slow response).

Therefore, this study highlights some challenges but also emphasizes how incredibly powerful FGs can be in providing opportunities for teachers to connect not only with teacher friends, but also with other educators across the vast expanse of Indonesia to share expertise, practices and ways of thinking. In other words, Facebook can be "a double-edged sword" that both supports and impedes professional development. The implications for politics will be discussed further.