Dr Christopher Voisey, Henley Business School
Year of activity: 2014/15
The core Part Two undergraduate module, International Business Management and Strategy (MM272), was redesigned on two pillars: teamwork, and social media (Facebook). Formal student evaluations were high and feedback from focus groups with students was very positive – students found the use of Facebook effective and enjoyable, and students felt fully engaged.
- Increase student engagement with team-based learning.
- Integrate Facebook into module delivery.
Team-based learning forms a core part of the Part Two module MM272; approximately 150 students are enrolled on this module. Yet inter-team discussions within the team-based learning context were limited to and by the classroom. Team-based learning for modules with larger student cohorts is an especially promising context in which Facebook may enhance learning outcomes. A recent project at the University of Reading had evaluated Blackboard Learn and email as being confusing and dated to students for the purposes of sharing, and that Facebook provided a more flexible and familiar platform. As a two-sided network in which posters and readers provide each other with network benefits through interactions, Facebook complements team-based learning by allowing for posting of key team arguments online, and for multiple rounds of comments and responses – dynamic interactions that strengthen learning.
First, a closed course Facebook group was created, students were divided into teams, and six Facebook-enabled tasks were designed. These tasks were to vote for module coursework mark allocation across assessment areas, to submit case-based assignments by in-class posting onto dedicated Facebook events (with tagging of other teams for comment), to appeal multiple choice questions, to post analyses of current business topics, for the module convenor to provide assignment-feedback (but not marks), and to post a Q&A and documents for download.
Facebook enabled development of norms of ‘professional informality’; barriers were lowered and there was greater tacit understanding of the subject, with higher learning outcomes as evidenced from exams. Facebook was inclusive, and gave a ‘voice’ to students who might be more reticent in class discussion. Class time was not monopolised by one speaker, but all voices were provided an audience through postings and comments online.
Facebook has afforded advantages understood from a social constructivist perspective on learning – learning emerges from social activity. Students observed each other, their postings, and this shaped their behaviours, leading to the development of norms in interacting, and increasing the level of scholarship in assignments, consistent with social learning theory. Socially, the boundary between personal and professional becomes blurred.