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Exploring the impact of Social Media on Students’ Internship Programs: A Comparative Study of Facebook and Schoology
Zamzami ZAINUDDIN, Xi ZHANG, Yin ZHANG, Xiuhan LI, Samson TSE, Ken YAU, Samuel K.W. CHU

Last modified: 2017-05-17


Introduction: Social media has been widely researched and embraced by higher education institutions as a platform to promote a ubiquitous learning environment, enabling any individual to learn anywhere and anytime, and to engage with social communities outside of the classroom.

Purpose: This study aims to explore the impact of two social media platforms that support learning for summer internship programs. Two online platforms, one formal and one informal, were employed — Schoology, a formal virtual learning environment (VLE) platform, and Facebook, as the informal platform. Four types of impacts were investigated, including students’ perceptions and attitudes, learning processes, social influence, and students’ perceived satisfaction.

Methodology: A mixed research approach involving quantitative (questionnaires) and qualitative (focus group interview) methods were employed to collect and analyze the data. In total, 46 Bachelor of Science in Information Management students (Facebook group) and 67 Bachelor of Social Sciences students (Schoology group) from a university in Hong Kong were recruited as participants of this study during their 2–3 months of the internship program. In analyzing the quantitative data, a Mann-Whitney test was conducted to compare the differences of Facebook and Schoology students, with a significance level of 0.05. The qualitative data was analyzed to generate themes and support the quantitative data.

Findings: The findings reveal that students from both disciplines were positive about the use of Facebook or Schoology during the internship. Their satisfaction with using Facebook or Schoology was apparent, and they suggested the potentials of using these platforms to assist in the success of intern students. The two platforms enabled better-facilitated students’ learning during their internship programs in terms of social interaction, problem-solving, perceived ease of use, and enjoyment. The findings also showed that students from both disciplines reported that reading others’ postings was useful, which was related to the specific instrument of the internship. Although students worked in different areas, they could still record their experiences according to the prescribed instruments. Students were more likely to agree that they learned something from others’ problem-solving experiences. However, Facebook seems a more suitable platform for students’ learning due to its popularity, user-friendliness, and use frequency and familiarity by students. Facebook is more convenient for students to interact with their peers and supervisors in an informal manner.

Limitations and recommendations: This study provides some limitations and should be addressed in future studies. Although the findings display a comparison of students’ use of  Schoology and Facebook during their internship, this does not provide in-depth qualitative analysis from the interviews or focus group discussion. Further studies are recommended to investigate more in-depth students’ perceptions of using Schoology and Facebook to support learning during the internship. Another limitation is a small sample size with a non-random sampling method. Only two groups of students participated in this study and future studies may fulfill these gaps by involving more participants from different fields of study. Additionally, cultural factors should also be further investigated with the employment of different social media platforms. Meanwhile, more studies for the Schoology are still needed in order to explore students’ learning experiences and perceptions from a different point of views and settings.