Tapping into the educational potential of Facebook : encouraging out-of-class peer collaboration in foreign language learning
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal. - Place of publication unknown
, p. 176-190
University of Antwerp
Due to their social framework and often informal character, social network sites such as Facebook are believed to promote out-of-class learning by encouraging learners to participate in online peer collaboration. Yet, the evidence remains inconclusive when it comes to the effectiveness and students appreciation of collaborating via social network sites, which indicates the need for further research. The first part of the present paper discusses the out-of-class use of a closed Facebook group by analysing the online communication behaviour of 119 first-year foreign language English majors at the University of Antwerp (Belgium) participating in a writing course. The assessed data (more than 4,000 Facebook posts and a post-questionnaire) suggest that the socio-communicative context of a Facebook group motivates students to learn collaboratively beyond the physical classroom walls. The remaining part of this paper investigates which conclusions can be drawn from this for increasing the effectiveness of independent self-access modules and study programmes blending self-access and classroom learning. Here, results hint at the fact that students attach particular importance to social network sites as support networks for sharing positive and critical learning experiences and language learning tips.