Learning with and from Facebook: Uncovering power asymmetries in educational interactions

  • Patient Rambe University of the Free State
  • Dick Ng'ambi University of Cape Town

Abstract

Although social networking sites (SNS) are increasingly popular among students, their academic application is unfolding on trial basis and best practices for integration into mainstream teaching are yet to be fully realised. More importantly, is the need to understand how these sites shape academic relations and participation of heterogeneous students, particularly in resource-constrained African environments. The speculation about meaningful educational uses of SNS possibly rests on the complexity of grasping the multiple horizontal and vertical interactions that unfold via these sites. This study examines academic relations on Facebook with a view to generating a nuanced account of how power is reinforced or disrupted in interactions mediated by Facebook. The paper analyses the Facebook wall and forum postings of 165 first year Information Systems students and employs Anderson’s model of six types of interactions to explore student experiences of the enactments of social power in Facebook engagements. Issues relating to power that emerged from Facebook interactions concerned asymmetrical engagements based on gender, breaching of hierarchical boundaries, compulsive academic use of Facebook, perceptions of vertical surveillance, lecturer and student projection of themselves and impression management. The paper recommends that learning with and from Facebook demands identification of leverage points in various stages of Facebook interaction.

 

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Author Biographies

Patient Rambe, University of the Free State
Department of Computer Science and Informatics, Postdoctoral Researcher
Dick Ng'ambi, University of Cape Town
Centre for Educational Technology, Associate Professor
Published
2014-08-03
How to Cite
Rambe, P., & Ng’ambi, D. (2014). Learning with and from Facebook: Uncovering power asymmetries in educational interactions. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3). https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.116