Group work and online discussions are not new terms in education and are important activities for Information Systems students. It has become important because it encourages creative thinking and provides more efficient problem-solving approaches. Online social networking sites, like Facebook, have pedagogical potential and the consideration of its academic application should not be ignored by lecturers or students. The main problem identified in this thesis is that the awareness and application of the emerging pedagogical potential of online social networking sites, like Facebook, especially for the purpose of group work and online discussions, is limited among Information Systems lecturers and students. The purpose of this study is to determine the level of awareness and application of Facebook as an academic tool by Information Systems lecturers and students, and whether it can enhance the learning experience of students, related to the effectiveness of group work and online discussions. The perceptions of both Information Systems lecturers and students were recorded by means of questionnaires and interviews. It was found that most lecturers and students were aware of Facebook’s pedagogical potential. However, the consideration and application of Facebook as an academic tool, by lecturers and students, are limited. From a cultural perspective, it was found that students from a private institution, where no Learning Management System was implemented, as well as black students, showed increased levels of utilisation and performance, in terms of enhanced learning experienced, on the academic groups on Facebook. The researcher developed a model for the academic application of Facebook for Information Systems students, based on the Task-Technology Fit and the Social Software Performance Model theories. This study concludes with the recommendation that Information Systems lecturers and students should become increasingly aware of and consider the pedagogical potential of Facebook as a supplementary tool and with suggestions for future research.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2010.