Technology Enhanced Learning Research Seminar – Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Facebook: Friend or Foe? The affordances of Facebook in supporting and maintaining learning relationships in an online initial teacher education programme.

Wednesday 21st June (12.15pm – 1.45pm)

The E-Learning Development Team will be hosting an invited talk by Ms Sara Archard (The University of Waikato, New Zealand) on Wednesday 21st June, in which she will explore the role of social networking sites such as Facebook in supporting staff-student interactions and the development of learning relationships.

The seminar will provide an opportunity for tutors, teacher educators and researchers to come together and share practice on effective strategies for supporting students’ online learning through the medium of formal and informal learning spaces. All staff and research students are most welcome to attend.

To register your attendance at this event, please sign up here. For further details about this event, please contact Dr Richard Walker (

Outline of the talk

eLearning in tertiary education is increasing in popularity due to the flexibility of access for students and the cost benefits to education providers. This increase in popularity combined with the advancement of digital technologies, has afforded new opportunities to support learning and teaching in online learning environments, this includes the use of Web 2.0 technologies such as Facebook. Although Facebook is a successful social networking site and used in daily life by many students, there is still much discussion about the pedagogical affordances of how it can be used to support teaching and learning.

This talk presents initial findings from a qualitative doctoral research project. The research project voices student-teachers perspectives on how they perceive their relationships over time with teacher-educators in one online initial early childhood teacher educator programme in Aotearoa New Zealand. A key point of interest that has emerged from the preliminary research results, is that the student-teacher self-initiated use of Facebook is an important informal platform for supporting peer relationships. However, results also indicate that Facebook can be barrier in developing learning relationships with lecturers in the programme.

About our speaker

Sara Archard is a lecturer at The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Currently, she is the coordinator of an online early childhood initial teacher education programme. As a teacher educator and new and emerging researcher, her key focus is the use of digital technologies in the tertiary and early childhood education sectors to support and enhance teaching and learning.

In line with this focus, the subject of Sara’s doctorate explores the ways early childhood student-teachers experience and perceive learning relationships over time between themselves, and with lecturers, in an online early childhood initial teacher education (ITE) programme. This topic is researched and theorised from a socio-cultural perspective and is underpinned by an interpretive paradigm and qualitative methodology. Her research aims to make explicit the tacit understandings of the art of teaching that are enacted by teacher-educators when they model pedagogy as a holistic relational practice. The goal of her analysis of learning relationships is to provide insight into how digital technologies may support such relationships and also how beginning teacher pedagogy is influenced by the learning relationships student-teachers have experienced with their lecturers during their initial teacher education. A topic that has not been greatly investigated in online learning environments. In the early childhood sector her research focus is how the digital funds of knowledge of children are recognised and responded to in early childhood settings in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Further details are available on Sara’s Waikato staff page at:

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