International Journal of Information Technology and Computer Science(IJITCS)

ISSN: 2074-9007 (Print), ISSN: 2074-9015 (Online)

Published By: MECS Press

IJITCS Vol.11, No.5, May. 2019

A Data Analysis of the Academic use of Social Media

Full Text (PDF, 540KB), PP.1-10

Views:5   Downloads:1


Dawn Carmichael, Jacqueline Archibald

Index Terms

Data Analysis;Social Network Analysis;Social Media;Facebook;Education


The use of Facebook, in higher education, has become common place presumably due to a general belief that the platform can promote information flows between students and with staff as well as increasing a sense of community engagement.  This study sets out to examine the academic use of Facebook groups using data analysis in order to determine if there are educational benefits and if Facebook group based learning strategies can be evaluated quickly and relatively easily.  The data analysis involved utilising Social Network Analysis (SNA) in examining two Facebook groups; one under-graduate ‘course’ based group with 135 members and one under-graduate first year ‘module’ based group with 123 members. The SNA metrics included degree centrality, betweeness centrality, clustering coefficient and eigenvector centrality. The study also involved conducting a survey and interviews drawn from users of the Facebook groups to validate the utility of the SNA metrics.  Results from the validation phase of the data analysis suggested that degree centrality is a useful guide to positive attitudes towards information flows, whilst betweenness centrality is useful for detecting a sense of academic community.  The validation outcomes also suggest that high clustering coefficient scores were associated with a lower perception of academic community.  The analysis of the data sets also found that the ‘course’ based group had higher scores for degree centrality and betweenness.  This suggests that the ‘course’ based group provided a better experience of information access and a sense of academic community.  Follow up interviews with respondents suggested that the ‘course’ based Facebook group may have had higher scores because it included more real world acquaintances than the ‘module’ based group.

Cite This Paper

Dawn Carmichael, Jacqueline Archibald, "A Data Analysis of the Academic use of Social Media", International Journal of Information Technology and Computer Science(IJITCS), Vol.11, No.5, pp.1-10, 2019. DOI: 10.5815/ijitcs.2019.05.01


[1]S. Manca and M. Ranieri, “Is Facebook still a suitable technology-enhanced learning environment? An updated critical review of the literature from 2012 to 2015,” J. Comput. Assist. Learn., vol. 32, no. 6, 2016.

[2]D. Lupton, “Feeling better connected’: Academics’ use of social media,” 2015.

[3]N. Dabbagh and A. Kitsantas, “Personal Learning Environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning,” Internet High. Educ., vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 3–8, Jan. 2012.

[4]K.-S. Kim, S.-C. J. Sin, and E. Y. Yoo-Lee, “Undergraduates’ Use of Social Media as Information Sources,” Coll. Res. Libr., vol. 75, no. 4, pp. 442–457, Jul. 2014.

[5]J. Gikas and M. M. Grant, “Mobile computing devices in higher education: Student perspectives on learning with cellphones, smartphones & social media,” Internet High. Educ., vol. 19, pp. 18–26, Oct. 2013.

[6]D. C. DeAndrea, N. B. Ellison, R. LaRose, C. Steinfield, and A. Fiore, “Serious social media: On the use of social media for improving students’ adjustment to college,” Internet High. Educ., vol. 15, no. 1, Jan. 2012.

[7]C. Pribeanu, D. D. Iordache, and A. Balog, “Educational Opportunities Provided by the Social Networking Sites: A Multidimensional Model,” in The International Scientific Conference eLearning and Software for Education, 2018, vol. 4, pp. 216–223.

[8]M. Duggan, N. B. Ellison, C. Lampe, A. Lenhard, and M. Madden, “Social media update,” Social media update 2014, 2015. .

[9]C. Barczyk and D. Duncan, “Facebook in higher education courses: an analysis of students’ attitudes, community of practice, and classroom community.,” Int. Bus. Manag., vol. 6, no. 1, 2013.

[10]E. Ivala and D. Gachago, “Social media for enhancing student engagement: the use of Facebook and blogs at a university of technology,” South African J. High. Educ., vol. 26, no. 1, 2012.

[11]J. C. Clements, “Using Facebook to enhance independent student engagement: a case study of first-year undergraduates.,” High. Educ. Stud., vol. 5, no. 4, 2015.

[12]N. Sheeran, D. J. Cummings, and N. Sheeran nsheeran, “An examination of the relationship between Facebook groups attached to university courses and student engagement,” High. Educ., 2018.

[13]N. E. Hurt et al., “The ‘Facebook’ Effect: College Students’ Perceptions of Online Discussions in the Age of Social Networking,” Int. J. Scholarsh. Teach. Learn., vol. 6, no. 2, Jul. 2012.

[14]I. Fares Al-Mashaqbeh, “Facebook Applications to Promote Academic Engagement: Student’s Attitudes towards the Use of Facebook as a Learning Tool,” I.J. Mod. Educ. Comput. Sci. Mod. Educ. Comput. Sci., vol. 11, no. 11, pp. 60–66, 2015.

[15]B. Dyson, K. Vickers, J. Turtle, S. Cowan, and A. Tassone, “Evaluating the use of Facebook to increase student engagement and understanding in lecture-based classes,” High. Educ., vol. 69, no. 2, Feb. 2015.

[16]A. Dhir, A. Khalil, K. Lonka, and C.-C. Tsai, “Do educational affordances and gratifications drive intensive Facebook use among adolescents?,” Comput. Human Behav., vol. 68, pp. 40–50, 2017.

[17]R. Junco, “Too much face and not enough books: The relationship between multiple indices of Facebook use and academic performance,” Comput. Human Behav., vol. 28, no. 1, Jan. 2012.

[18]R. Junco, “Student class standing, Facebook use, and academic performance,” J. Appl. Dev. Psychol., vol. 36, pp. 18–29, 2015.

[19]E. Alwagait, B. Shahzad, and S. Alim, “Impact of social media usage on students academic performance in Saudi Arabia,” Comput. Human Behav., vol. 51, pp. 1092–1097, Oct. 2015.

[20]W. W. F. Lau, “Effects of social media usage and social media multitasking on the academic performance of university students,” Comput. Human Behav., vol. 68, pp. 286–291, Mar. 2017.

[21]F. Giunchiglia, M. Zeni, E. Gobbi, E. Bignotti, and I. Bison, “Mobile social media usage and academic performance,” Comput. Human Behav., vol. 82, pp. 177–185, 2018.

[22]P. A. Willging, “Using Social Network Analysis Techniques to Examine Online Interactions,” vol. 2, no. 9, 2005.

[23]R. Xerez, “How Do the Evolution and Innovation of Social Network Analysis Matter to Computer Science and Communications?,” Soc. Netw., vol. 2, pp. 147–151, 2013.

[24]A. Mislove, M. Marcon, K. P. Gummadi, P. Druschel, and B. Bhattacharjee, “Measurement and analysis of online social networks,” Proc. 7th ACM SIGCOMM Conf. Internet Meas. - IMC ’07, 2007.

[25]S. A. Catanese, P. De Meo, E. Ferrara, G. Fiumara, and S. I. May, “Crawling Facebook for Social Network Analysis Purposes,” in Proceedings of the international conference on web intelligence, mining and semantics. ACM., 2011.

[26]K. L. Cela, M. Á. Sicilia, and S. Sánchez, “Social Network Analysis in E-Learning Environments: A Preliminary Systematic Review,” Educ. Psychol. Rev., vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 219–246, 2015.

[27]D. L. Hansen et al., “Do You Know the Way to SNA?: A Process Model for Analyzing and Visualizing Social Media Data,” in Social Informatics, 2012.

[28]K. Kitto et al., “The connected learning analytics toolkit,” in Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge, 2016, pp. 548–549.

[29]R. Rabbany, M. Takaffoli, and O. R. Zaïane, “Analyzing participation of students in online courses using social network analysis techniques,” in Proceedings of educational data mining, 2011.

[30]C. Spadavecchia and C. Giovannella, “Monitoring learning experiences and styles: the socio-emotional level,” in Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 2010 IEEE 10th International Conference on, 2010, pp. 445–449.

[31]Z. Chen and S. Watanabe, “A case study of applying SNA to analyze CSCL social network,” in Advanced Learning Technologies, 2007. ICALT 2007. Seventh IEEE International Conference on, 2007, pp. 18–20.

[32]A. Corallo, M. De Maggio, F. Grippa, and G. Passiante, “A methodological framework to monitor the performance of virtual learning communities,” Hum. Factors Ergon. Manuf. Serv. Ind., vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 135–148, 2010.

[33]E. Gottardo and R. V. Noronha, “Social networks applied to distance education courses: analysis of interaction in discussion forums,” in Proceedings of the 18th Brazilian symposium on Multimedia and the web, 2012, pp. 355–358.

[34]M. De Laat, V. Lally, L. Lipponen, and R.-J. Simons, “Analysing student engagement with learning and tutoring activities in networked learning communities: A multi-method approach,” Int. J. Web Based Communities, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 394–412, 2006.

[35]R. J. Benbow and C. Lee, “Teaching-focused social networks among college faculty: exploring conditions for the development of social capital,” High. Educ., pp. 1–23, 2018.

[36]P. He, “Evaluating students online discussion performance by using social network analysis,” in Information Technology: New Generations (ITNG), 2012 Ninth International Conference on, 2012, pp. 854–855.

[37]G. Putnik, E. M. Costa, C. Alves, H. Castro, L. Varela, and V. Shah, “Analysing the correlation between social network analysis measures and performance of students in social network-based engineering education,” INESTEC, 2016.

[38]J. Moreno, Who shall survive? New York, USA: Beacon Press, 1934.

[39]F. Heider, “Attitudes and Cognitive Orientation,” J. Psychol., vol. 21, 1946.

[40]F. Martino and A. Spoto, “Social Network Analysis : A brief theoretical review and further perspectives in the study of Information Technology,” PsychNology J., vol. 4, no. 1, 2006.

[41]J. Moreno, “Sociogram and sociomatrix,” Sociometry, vol. 9, 1946.

[42]S. Wasserman and K. Faust, Social network analysis: Methods and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

[43]T. W. Valente, Social Networks and Health. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

[44]A. Fenton and C. Procter, “Studying social media communities: blending methods with netnography,” 2019.

[45]U. Brandes, “A Faster Algorithm for Betweenness Centrality,” J. Math. Sociol., vol. 169, no. 5, 2001.

[46]T. Opsahl and P. Panzarasa, “Clustering in Weighted Networks,” Soc. Networks, vol. 31, no. 2, 2009.

[47]D. Austin, “How Google Finds Your Needle in the Web’s Haystack,” American Mathematical society, 2013. [Online]. Available:

[48]I. Himelboim and M. A. Smith, “NodeXL,” Int. Encycl. Commun. Res. Methods, pp. 1–3, 2017.