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Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: 'It is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work'

By Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley


This is the author's final draft of the paper published as Learning, Media and Technology, 2009, 34 (2), pp. 141-155. The final version is available from Doi: 10.1080/17439880902923606Whilst recent studies suggest that over 95% of British undergraduate students are regularly using social networking sites, we still know very little about how this phenomenon impacts on the student experience and, in particular, how it influences students' social integration into university life. This paper explores how pre-registration engagement with a university Facebook network influences students' post-registration social networks. Research was conducted with first year undergraduates at a British university using an online survey. Students reported that they specifically joined Facebook pre-registration as a means of making new friends at university, as well as keeping in touch with friends and family at home. The survey data also illustrate that once at university, Facebook was part of the 'social glue' that helped students settle into university life. However, care must be taken not to over-privilege Facebook: it is clearly only one aspect of students' more general social networking practices and face-to-face interrelationships and interactions remain important. Students thought Facebook was used most importantly for social reasons, not for formal teaching purposes, although it was sometimes used informally for learning purposes

Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1080/17439880902923606
OAI identifier:

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