Rachel Kyte (IHS)
The aim was to determine student views on, and engagement with, discussion boards hosted on Facebook and Blackboard, during summative assignment preparation. Online discussion boards are purported to encourage student interaction/collaborative learning (Brenton, 2009), however student engagement can vary. Facebook is currently the most widely used social media platform in the UK (Ofcom, 2014). This action research project investigated (1) whether the use of Facebook as a platform increased student engagement with a summative assignment discussion board and (2) whether, and if so why, they preferred Facebook to their current interface, Blackboard. A mixed-methods approach was used. Students were given access to the same discussion board on Facebook and Blackboard. The discussion boards were evaluated via an online questionnaire and a focus group. Participants were recruited from a cohort of sixteen 2nd year Physiotherapy students at the University of Worcester. Initial survey findings suggest that students found the discussion boards a valuable tool for assignment preparation. Students preferred Facebook and engaged more with this platform, valuing the informal feel and superior functionality. Focus group data will be presented. Functionality, accessibility and informality are important factors to consider when selecting platforms to host online discussion forum.