Identifying Social Presence in Student Discussions on Facebook and Canvas


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Series/Report no

Technology, Knowledge and Learning;Published online 27 April 2018



Document type


This study examines student discussion fora in a Master’s programme. Previous student evaluations of the course highlightedthestudents’dissatisfaction with the technology chosen for communicationand recommended theuseof Facebook instead. In this article, we raise the following question: ‘How do various digital discussion fora engage students in academic discussions?’The collected data material consists of student evaluation reports and dialogues on Facebook and Canvas. The data were gathered from two courses that used Facebook orCanvas as their primary communication technology. In analysing these interactions, we identified several categories: social issues, academic discussions, practical issues, information flow, teacher information,and crossover discussions. The findings, which addressthe interplay between the social and the material nature of communication in academic discussions, are analysedfrom a sociomaterial perspective. Our conclusions indicate that the sociomaterial nature of the various discussion fora influences the students’ social presences,which consequently influence the academic discussions.




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