Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects vol:9 pages:125-148
The use of social networking sites (SNSs) has become commonplace amongst students. In this research, we aim to shed light upon the educational use and privacy issues on Facebook from the perspective of role theory and reference group theory. 15 bachelor students of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Flanders, Belgium, were interviewed in depth several times during the 2009-2010 academic year. In addition, 143 students completed an online survey concerning their daily ICT use. Our findings confirm the enormous popularity of SNSs amongst contemporary students. Findings also suggest that students make a clear distinction between ICT use for study and non-study related purposes. Three categories of students arise concerning students’ answers on the question of whether Facebook possesses educational possibilities: the indifferents, the approvers, and the supporters. No interviewee would accept a friendship request from a faculty member, partly based on an awareness of the consequences of too much self-disclosure on Facebook. Three explanations, inspired by role theory and reference group theory, are given to frame this denial: firstly, that students identify themselves with different reference groups; secondly, in reference group theory, that the behavior of a person is consistent with the expectations of the peer group; and finally, inspired by role theory,that being a faculty member’s friend is seen as a role conflict.