Tag Archives: Collaborative Learning

Using Facebook to enhance collaborative learning for media law students in journalism

Dr David Clarke & Julie Gillin
@shuclarke / @juliegillin

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.8

Short Abstract
In 2014 a Facebook page was launched to support teaching and learning for Level 6 and 7 journalism students studying media law. This paper explores how the site provides a secure, private learning environment in which students and staff can discuss and share examples of journalistic practice.

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Detailed Outline
The Media Law Facebook page is being used to promote TEL (technology enhanced learning) to provide a safe environment where L6 and 7 students studying Media Law, Regulation and Court Reporting can benefit from collaborative and social learning. At the same time it supports digital literacy skills and ethical practice that are essential to journalists.
The FB site allows them to develop their knowledge of media law and practical court reporting in a professional, supportive context. The module leader facilitates the site which is moderated by colleagues from the teaching staff. Both staff and students contribute content and reflect on their experience reporting upon the criminal courts and coroner’s inquests in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.
Social media use can been seen as disruptive and confusing when there are too many competing platforms, particularly Blackboard (Halverson, 2011). While staff recognise the benefits of social media, at the same time we have concerns about ethical and legal practice online and about privacy. This is of particular significance in the light of the recent Leveson Inquiry into the conduct and ethical practice within the print media.
Journalism educators are faced with the challenge of trying to prepare journalism students for a rapidly changing professional landscape (Rohumaa and Bradshaw, 2011) in which social media is an essential tool and platform. This presents challenges in that we also are required to control their use of social media as students of the university following SHU Social Media Guidelines.
As a result, the journalism team have discussed our individual and group use of Facebook and other social media and agreed a best practice policy.
This development in teaching and learning practice is ongoing and is being used as a template for best practice in related modules and disciplines. Student feedback on their experience of the module will be collected and analysed for use in future research and publications.

HALVERSON, E.R. (2011) Do social networking technologies have a place in formal learning environments ? On the Horizon 19:1, p62-7.
ROHUMAA, L., and BRADSHAW, P. (2011) The Online Journalism Handbook: skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. London: Pearson

Collaborative Learning (2014)

Jackie Cawkwell, Mark Boylan & Adam Talbot

The presentation shares how a small project investigated the staff and student experience of a piece of group work (summatively assessed as a group presentation). The core modules (Level 4 Business Analysis and Financial Analysis for Business) were identified as being of interest due to size (600+) and that they attract mixed evaluations, indicating some dissatisfaction.

Data collection was undertaken by a mixed team of academics and a student researcher, with surveys, analysis of module evaluations and a technique known as process value mapping (PVM) as a focus group task. This technique is drawn from the world of business, but applied, we believe, uniquely within HE as an exploration of a learning experience. PVM leads to mapping, categorising and evaluating a process.

Whilst collaborative learning is seen as important for the development of both learning gains and employability skills, it is often reported as causing concern for both staff and students. It was our conjecture that these issues need to be addressed early in the student journey. Consequently, the project rationale was to:

  • describe activities and associated supporting interventions;
  • identify and evaluate strengths and opportunities for further enhancement;
  • evaluate the usefulness of PVM as an enquiry tool;
  • contribute to the knowledge base on collaborative learning in HE and ways to research this.

We will share our initial findings and also explain the techniques adopted for the investigation and reflect on this as one approach to exploring the student experience.

The project was a collaborative process itself, with a student researcher, two principal investigators and a Programme Leader ‘client’. We will reflect upon the implications of this approach in terms of student engagement in the research enquiry and the learning gains of the student researcher.