Redesigning Learning for the 21st Century Learner – Can Facebook be a Tool for Education?

Dennen and Burner (2017) explored very interesting concepts around Facebook usage in higher education. They explored social identities, context collapse and the issues with social media presence and privacy. They found that 94% of the 159 students surveyed used Facebook for their personal lives. However, Facebook usage for school and work dropped drastically to 38% and 9% respectively (Dennen & Burner, 2017). This data shows that there may be a culture that suggest a user’s online social identity is not appropriate for school. The implications make me wonder if social identity etiquette is something we should teach in K-12 education. Our students now operate in a digital world which is something that was also evident in this study by the survey data on means of communication. Out of the 159 students surveyed, 96% of the students stated they communicated by email for school, 93% of student stated they communicated by email for personal usage, and 41% stated they communicated by email for work (it should be noted that the majority of students participating in the study were undergraduate students). Based on the data it is evident that web 1.0 is an established part of our personal, educational, and professional society, and most of us are using web 2.0 tools in some aspect of our world but in isolation.

Context collapse is when worlds collide in an online setting, such as personal social identities and school or professional identities (Denen & Burner, 2017). Today most people disconnect their online self from school and/or work, or they have several variations of themselves. Some people take the approach of having multiple accounts for a social media platform. Some choose different platforms to display different identities. For instance, I’ve been told Snapchat is the place you go to let loose. Instagram is the place you go to show off. Facebook is the place you go to be more of your day to day self. Lastly Twitter, is where you go to blow off steam, get news, and voice your opinion. If this is the case, then the data from this study would support this logic of people trying to avoid context collapse.

Is context collapse an issue we should work on as a society to leverage the power of a tool like Facebook or does a tool like Facebook not have a place in formal education?


Dennen, V. P., & Burner, K. J. (2017). Identity, context collapse, and Facebook use in higher education: putting presence and privacy at odds. Distance Education, 1-20.