Imperial College students’ use of Facebook

9 09 2008

I did a bit of research, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity, into what students from my workplace actually use Facebook for and surprise, surprise, the majority of their groups are social / leisure based. Most of the Imperial groups seem to be based around sports, department alumni or department freshers and most seem to be student rather than staff led. There were a couple of interesting teaching / learning based groups: Imperial Podcast Listeners is a group for students subscribing to Imperial College podcasts and contains links from staff to new podcasts and advice on how to access them, while the Imperial College ’11 CivEng Maths Answers group is used by students to get help with maths questions from their peers.

Groups for freshers gave information on registration, course content and social events and encouraged prospective students to get to know each other through Facebook before starting their course. Alumni groups centred around reunion events and recruitment while sports / society groups listed fixtures and social events.

I’m not sure how representative this all is, as I only looked at groups, but there aren’t yet any Imperial College applications of Facebook that I could find and my overall impression was that most of the interaction between Imperial students was student led and not study-based.

Put the Facebook down and step away slowly

21 08 2008

Why oh why oh why are people in the academic library world so obsessed with integrating their services into Facebook? There seems so be a prevailing thread of naffness running through some library service’s approach to utilising web 2.0 applications and I for one really can’t see the point in having a library Facebookapplication or flying into a seminar in Second Life. How many students honestly want their academic working life impinging upon what are, fundamentally, applications they use to conduct their social lives? You wouldn’t follow a student into a pub, tap them on the shoulder and remind them to return their books, so why do the digital equivalent? Yes, bookFace and Second Life are vibrant, cool (for the moment) and popular but do you think that if they’d started out as a way of hawking inter-library loans or referencing training they’d still be that way? I’d say probably not. There are good, legitimate ways of using web 2.0 to improve and promote library and information literacy services, things like Slideshare and Delicious, but these are places where social software and accessing information meet in a smooth, organic way, whereas I feel that jumping on the Facebook/Second Life bandwagon is like an18th birthday party where the parents stay for the whole thing: it has all the trappings of fun, the booze, the food, the music, but the parents feel awkward, the kids feel awkward and no-one’s really comfortable enought to enjoy themselves.