FaceBook – the ICT Student Support Line

2453408678_9de02512b4I met with an ex-student, now at a University recently. We talked about how informal networks influence his study patterns. I had to re-assure him about why I was interested. “Why are you looking to ban them at your place?” he said jokingly … but went on to explain how he uses about ten FaceBook networks –primary to for ’ immediate help – ‘There’s always someone on”.

He wasn’t using FaceBook for learning, but just to operate effectively inside a large system which has ‘glitches’ as he put it. Navigating the process and protocols of student life … “you can see Student ICT Services and wait for hours in a line – or just go on FaceBook and ask people there who’ve stood in the line already’.

He also said that Facebook gave students “advice on which subjects to choose, as some don’t fit that well” with getting a job.

“You can go on FaceBook and ask people who are graduating, or left already, which units we’re useful, or find someone who has”.

He was using it for social and study purposes – using his mobile phone to do that. He laughed when I asked if he used in it lectures. He clearly felt that his personal technology was there to help him navigate the institution and found efficiencies to be more strategic in study. He used online study to in balancing the “rest of his life”.

He didn’t connect that with learning directly, saying “we have a online learning portal, but it just for the course information mostly, but some academics do a lot of that stuff, just not in my course. We just use forums to answer questions, is that what you mean”.

I asked if he thought it would be good for him if they did … “yeah, but those guys are so busy, they can’t get back to you as fast as you need”.

He felt that there his access to FaceBook made University life easier to manage and didn’t expect that the institution could provide this support network.

We use the food places, if we can’t get into the library – that place is often packed, people camp there all day with their friends”.

I not sure I drew any ‘ideas’ in this conversation, but really enjoyed being able to talk about how he’s drawing on his friend-network skills to solve ‘glitches’ in the system. I wonder how different ‘adult learners’ as teachers are from students? Navigating the system seems to a universal problem

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4 thoughts on “FaceBook – the ICT Student Support Line

  1. I use Facebook with my adult students and it has been excellent. What I say is I’m in FB if you want to add me as friend please feel free to do so. There is absolutely no pressure for them to connect – FB is their space and they can choose if they want that connection.

    What I’ve found is FB is often where they like connecting. Over the years I’ve always given them my email address and had minimal success with them using it to contact me.

    With FB they often send me emails using the inbox, they will start up chat sessions if I log into my account and they write on my wall. What has been great is that they will contact me for assistance with their courses (not just mine) and they know I will respond 24/7.

    More importantly they like to share and tell me more about how they are as individuals and are now maintaining that connection when they leave TAFE.

  2. Talking to students, they seem to differentiate – learning from social connections, so it’s interesting that FB is seen as a kind of ‘helpdesk’.

  3. I’m not quite sure what you mean “Talking to students, they seem to differentiate – learning from social connections, so it’s interesting that FB is seen as a kind of ‘helpdesk'”

    Do you mean that students don’t necessarily realise that they are learning from their social network? Or that students are automatically using it as a ‘helpdesk’.

    One of the best aspects I like is that I get to know them more as individuals because they willingly share so much more than you can ever learn with the walls of a classroom. My favorite story is the student who put a picture of my wall saying this is what I do outside of TAFE, and this is my passion — it said to me this is me the person! This was a really quiet student who was often drowned out by the noisier students.

    • He didn’t seem to see a line between social and help in FB, but did between online service provided at his Uni to ‘learn’. So really I guess its a disconnect between formal and informal still. I just just get the impression that he expected the provided service to be as responsive or friendly. I appreciate the mountains that need to be climbed in order to ‘put’ FB into higher education curricula, but at the same time, it’s there informally already.

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