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Saturday, September 14 • 3:21pm - 3:40pm
“A Comparison on using social media in a professional experience course”

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Social Media tools such as blogs and Facebook have been recognized as effective in facilitatingteaching and learning in higher education (Maloney, 2007). This study applies social networkanalysis and text mining to comparing the effects of using blogs and Facebook in a ProfessionalExperience course at the undergraduate level. The results indicate blogs were better forjournalizing while Facebook was more effective in facilitating communications and interactionsamong students. The results are not only consistent with students’ perceptions collected frompost-course interviews, but also provide analytic evidences in the micro-level.

Professional Experience is a core course in a Bachelor Program in Information Management(IM). It requires students to work full-time for at least 6 weeks in organizations in the IM sector.A major assessment of this course is a reflective journal written by each student during thecourse. One of the two student groups considered in this study used YouBlog in 2008 forjournalizing (n=16) and the other group used Facebook (private group function) in 2011 (n=20).Besides writing journals, students were required to comment on others’ posts as well. Byanalyzing the patterns and content of students’ posts and comments, this study aims to comparestudents’ behaviors in using the two social media tools in a course focusing on experientiallearning.

730 messages (433 original posts and 297 comments) and 504 messages (181 original posts and423 comments) were collected from YouBlogs and Facebook respectively. Social networkanalysis (Borgatti et al., 2002; Gruzd, 2009) revealed that students using Facebook were moreconnected than those using YouBlog, as indicated by lower network fragmentation, higher totaldegree centrality and higher betweenness centrality (Table 1).

Text mining was applied to identify patterns in the messages. Figure 1 shows the most frequentwords contained in messages posted to the two social media tools. While most of the words werein common and related to the students’ subject of study, the top word, “today” among YouBlogmessages suggests an evidence of the journalizing function supported by this tool.

The distributions of frequent words across timeline disclose that both groups of students talkedmore about “working” and “work” at early stages of the course, indicating a possible excitementabout experiencing real-world professional environments. Facebook users talked more about“experience” and “knowledge” at late stages of the course, while YouBlog users only used thesewords infrequently. This evidences that Facebook was probably more effective in facilitatingexperience and knowledge sharing, especially when the course approached to its end.

Both groups of students were interviewed after the course and YouBlog users reportedly postedentries more often than Facebook users (p=0.02) while Facebook users perceived higher level ofsupports from peers (p=0.03) (Chu, 2013). This is consistent with the above results from socialnetwork analysis and text mining.

This study provides empirical evidence that social media can be effectively used in facilitatingdeep reflections and collaborative learning. Both blogs and Facebook have their own advantagesand it is therefore suggested that future social media tools should combine the strengths of blogs(organization of content) and Facebook (collaborative features).

Borgatti, S.P., Everett, M.G. and Freeman, L.C. 2002. Ucinet for Windows: Software for SocialNetwork Analysis. Harvard, MA: Analytic Technologies.
Chu, S.K.W. (2013). The Application of Blogs and Facebook in Scaffolding the InternshipLearning Process. Center for Information and Technology Studies Research Symposium,May 2013, Hong Kong.
Gruzd, A. (2009). Studying Collaborative Learning Using Name Networks. Journal forEducation in Library and Information Science 50(4).
Maloney, E. (2007).What Web 2.0 can teach us about learning. Chronicle of Higher Education,vol. 53, no. 18, p. 1, 2007.


Samuel K.W. Chu

University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Xiao Hu

University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Saturday September 14, 2013 3:21pm - 3:40pm EDT
ROWE 1020

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