Saturday, September 27, 2008

Facebook Fresher's group: Success story

Yesterday was the last day of our induction week. I'm pretty happy with the way the whole week went: no small feat given that I only took over as Course Director for our BA programmes less than a month ago. One of the great things has definitely been the take up and use of the Facebook group for the Freshers. At the beginning of the week we had 62 students joined up, and at the last look, 84 students out of an intake of around 120. But the numbers aren't everything - it's how the students evaluated it.

It won't surprise you at all to know that they loved the fact they could make friends with their fellow students before they even got here. That made a huge difference on the first day when it was so much easier to strike up conversations. But they also really appreciated the fact that they could ask questions and get the clarification they needed before arriving. Some of this came from me, but some of it also came from the students too, especially our student mentors who played a brilliant part in offering advice and encouragement from a student perspective. And to my pleasant surprise, conversations about the books they are going to be studying already started happening too.

The strength of using Facebook is that many of the students are already using it. I wasn't asking them to take on yet another new form information, but tapping into a forum they are already familiar with. And, as a social networking site, that is what it is best at: encouraging friendships and connections that build the social cohesion so important for good progression and retention. There are things that I don't like, like the inability to upload documents into groups. But we will definitely keep the group going (at the students' request) so they can in touch with each other, and probably as a tool for student representation too.



Blogger Stephen said...

Seems your colleagues to the northeast in Leicester are doing similar things. And like your experience, students used facebook 'To meet people before coming to university and because most of my friends at home used it.' Now if only I could get facebook unblocked by our IT department!

7:45 PM  
Blogger Ruth Page said...

Thanks Stephen! My colleague sent me a link to the article you mention just the same day. If your IT department won't allow Moodle, have you thought about Mahara, which is a sister product to Moodle?

10:31 AM  

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