Gavin Meng-Lewis Lecturer in Digital Animation Ealing School of Arts, Design and Media

Within the subject of digital animation (as with many other creative and media based subjects) students are increasingly required to be proficient in the use of a range of software packages. One of the most useful and effective ways to learn this software is to work within the support of a functioning ‘community of practice’.

My aim in this intervention was to facilitate an online support network through which students could pose technical questions to their peers.

I chose Facebook as the platform for this intervention because of all of my students already had accounts, and because most were using it regularly. If the site was to be of use to the students, then questions posed would need to be responded to quickly, and the frequency with which students checked their Facebook account was a great advantage here.

I was concerned over whether students would have worries around privacy, and whether they would consider the intervention an intrusion into an area that they valued for leisure activities. I made an initial survey of the students and found that this was not a concern they shared. Nevertheless, I provided students with a document that described in detail how to manage Facebook’s privacy settings. I also conducted a survey at the end of the module to find out whether any students had had concerns or difficulties relating to these issues during the module. In order to encourage the use of the page, I decided to give 10% of the final grade to contributions to the Facebook page, with the suggested minimum being 1 post per week.

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