Facebook at University: Why Some Students Connect

By Carolyn Woodley, CaAtherine Meredith and Scott Murray.

Published by The International Journal of Technologies in Learning

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social media has been seeping into most aspects of the higher education sector – from research to marketing, from student support to engaging Alumni – and is playing an increasingly important role especially in marketing and communication. The Faculty of Business and Law at Victoria University (VU), Melbourne, set up a Facebook site in 2008 principally as another means through which to communicate to students. Predictably, given the exponential growth of Facebook use globally, numbers of students using the Faculty Facebook have more than doubled in the last two years from 1500 in April 2010 to 3348 Likes currently. That Facebook has experienced ongoing growth in the typical student age (18-24 year olds) range might explain an increased interest in any Facebook site; further, the Faculty has advertised its Facebook presence via other media which could also explain an increase of ‘friends’. One issue around Facebook use at universities seems to be, then, not whether universities should use Facebook at all but, more specifically, if universities should use Facebook for teaching. This paper examines VU’s Faculty of Business and Law Facebook and uses data from an online survey of Faculty Facebook friends to suggest why and how some students connect to the site. More importantly, the paper examines some students’ attitudes to using Facebook – and social media more generally – for teaching rather than the extra-curricular communications that currently dominate the Faculty’s Facebook usage.

Keywords: Social Media, Facebook, Student Engagement

International Journal of Technologies in Learning, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp.87-97. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 499.853KB).

Dr Carolyn Woodley

Senior Lecturer, Centre for Work Integrated Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Carolyn Woodley is an Educational Developer in the Educational Development Unit in the Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University. Her research interests include the use of ICT, internationalising the curriculum, transnational quality and teaching and learning more broadly.

Ms CaAtherine Meredith

Transition and Retention Coordinator, Faculty of Business and Law, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

As the Transition & Retention Coordinator in the Faculty of Business and Law, CaAtherine Meredith has been influential in linking mentoring programs with other support initiatives, championing Faculty-based Ambassador programs, supporting 'at risk' interventions and developing student-centric communication using Web 2.0 technologies.

Scott Murray

Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Scott Murray is part of the marketing team in the Faculty of Business and Law at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. He is the coordinator of the faculty's Legal Studies and Australian Politics competition (LSAP) which forms part of the schools engagement program. As a lawyer, Scott is ideally placed to run these events that engage students in to develop develop skills in debating, negotiation, mock trial and filmmaking. He is interested in how social media can extend and enhance the university's engagement program.