Using Facebook as an Asynchronous Learning Environment
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Session presented on Saturday, April 9, 2016, and Friday, April 8, 2016: Nursing is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and is currently the largest health care profession (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2011). The practice of nursing, in collaboration with other fields, extends to a variety of settings, including schools, home health, military, education, and others. The demand for educated, skilled, competent nurses is continually rising as the socioeconomic and family structure adjusts to a large aging population. It is projected that over 1 million job openings for nurses will be available by 2022, due to growth and replacement of the baby boom era nurses (AACN, 2011). The description of college students has evolved over the last decade in which non-traditional students have become the new majority (Bell, 2012). With a changing job market, and increase in second careers, older adults are becoming the new students, the non-traditional student. While there are many definitions for a non-traditional student, characteristics include: having dependents, being a single parent, being employed full time, financially independent, attending school part time, and being over the age of 24 (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2002). In 2011, there were 4.1 million graduate students and 82 percent of them worked (Davis, 2012, p. 2). According to the National League for Nursing (NLN) (2013), over 65% of RN students attending an Associate degree or Baccalaureate degree program are over age 30. Students in this age group are tasked with tremendous responsibility, managing family, career, school, and financial and religious responsibilities (Ascend Learning, LLC, 2012; Giancola, Grawitch, & Borchert, 2009; Sandler, 2002). The primary goal of education is to prepare an individual for what will be encountered in their specified career. The process of education is not meant to provide every situation and solution for a professional field, but to engrain and utilize the building blocks that will allow an individual to process and integrate knowledge to achieve a desired outcome. Nursing educators must be able to convey content (Billings & Halstead, 2013), including how to critically think, use intuition, develop skills, communicate effectively, and understand the basic pathophysiology of many disease processes, medications, and other various interventions. Moreover, nursing faculty have a responsibility in curriculum development and evaluation, development of student evaluation methods, and graduation requirements, create standards for promotion and tenure of faculty (Billings & Halstead, 2013, p. 3). The need for technology on behalf of both the educators and the students is no longer a suggestion, but a required integration into curricula in order to meet the demands placed upon all involved. Using web-based technology to communicate with students in a quick, efficient manner is needed. Students require opportunities to network and support one another, as this has been shown to decrease stress and attrition in nursing programs (Bryer, 2012; Giancola et al., 2009; Glossop, 2001). The purpose of this project is to determine if the use of a web-based technology, Facebook, provides learning and networking opportunities to students, and if it can meet the needs of all students (traditional and non-traditional) who attend this Associate of Nursing Degree program. PICOT Does the use of Facebook enhance and clarify traditional learning through scenario based situations and interprofessional communication among nursing students and faculty in an Associate Degree program compared to not using Facebook within three months? Theoretical Implications: Many studies that have been selected for this research question evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative learning as a valuable way to store and retrieve information (Ashley & O'Neal, 1994; Campbell & Mayer, 2009; Gokhale, 1995; Hessler & Henderson, 2013; Mayer, 2010a; Mayer, 2010b) Situations among students and faculty, where the utilization of teamwork is apparent, provides insight as to the benefit of this intervention. Moreover, the use of technology is shown to be enthusiastically received among students as it allows them to direct their individualized learning and study habits (Tabbers et al., 2004) Integrating the use of one's ears and eyes while learning information has been shown to greatly increase the cognitive process, as determined by the above mentioned studies through the use of technology as well as research performed by Mayer (2010a). Collaboration with others allows students to generate information and participate in meaningful learning as each student selects, organizes, and integrates the information with past or learned experiences (Mayer, 2010b). Students who are able to ask questions, generate summaries and analogies are able to apply what they know in different situations (Mayer, 2010b), thereby allowing a person to generate and transcribe knowledge, as opposed to the standard regurgitation of information. Sample: The subjects for this study will be the students enrolled in NURS 1170 (Bridge to RN Practice) during the summer of 2015. This course is much smaller than the traditional courses, only admitting a maximum number of 24 students. Of those 24 students, it is anticipated that some will not turn in the proper documentation in order to take the course, or choose not to accept entrance into the program. Due to a small N (<30) and constraints within the program, convenience sampling will be the method of drawing representative data. As this is a pilot study, the sample size and course selected will provide relevant data that can demonstrate the ease and use of social media as a learning tool. Procedure: The participants who wish to participate and sign a consent will provide their Facebook profile name in order for this researcher to locate and invite them to join the private Facebook page. The page will be private in order to facilitate the conversation more easily and provide replies that are consistent with the content in the curriculum. A reminder of the HIPPA and FERPA regulations regarding posts will be put on the main page for students and faculty. All faculty for the course will be invited and encouraged to participate. This researcher will provide questions, scenarios, case studies, and audio clips throughout the semester based on the content being taught at that time. This researcher will also monitor and comment on posts every day to ensure that HIPPA and FERPA laws are upheld. The subjects are free to ask questions and faculty can also provide scenarios, questions, situations, and any other pertinent information to relay to the students. A total of eight quizzes with no grade value and a survey will be given during the course of the project. Data Analysis: Various statistics will be computed and themes will be extrapolated from the surveys and quizzes. The Pearson Correlation Coefficient and t-Test for dependent groups will explain positive and negative relationships between studying, the use of Facebook, and any population or demographical differences that might affect these variables. The quizzes and survey from this project will provide information regarding how valuable students found Facebook as a study tool, and if Facebook improved learning required content. Moreover, the themes retrieved from the survey and ranking on the Likert-scale will provide insight regarding interprofessional relationships and networking. Both the quantitative and qualitative data will determine how students prefer to learn, and hopefully provide evidence to support the use of Facebook as an easy and efficient method to communicate with others and ask questions. It will also provide gaps in the research and assess a continuing need for communication with students via a web-based platform. Qualitative Analysis: Conclusion: The study was conducted during the summer 2015. Data analysis will be completed by May 2016. The qualitative portion of the study has been completed. Question 1 on the survey: Did Facebook change the amount of time you studied with a group? If yes, describe how it changed. Results (Themes): Communication: Feedback Study groups Question 2 on the survey: Did using Facebook change the way you studied? If yes, please describe how it changed. Results (Themes) Resource Re-access information Questions Focused material Comments of note: 'enhanced learning' and 'discuss this while away from home or my notes.' Limitations Limitations for this project included a small sample size and a shortened semester. It was also determined that the students did not fully understand that the Facebook page was to be considered a study group. Implications: Using Facebook to communicate with students and allow for collaboration among one another provided enhanced learning and networking. It provided a framework for further research and a larger study using Facebook has begun in a nursing course during the fall 2015. Enhancing knowledge to both faculty and students regarding ethical and legal concerns has eliminated some concern and fear regarding the use of Facebook in an educational arena. This project would be easily replicated in other populations and in conjunction with multiple programs.