Facebook or LMS in Distance Education? Why University Students Prefer to Interact in Facebook Groups





Facebook groups, distance education, learning management system, university, interaction


This article describes an investigation into the level of satisfaction among students at Spain’s National Distance Education University (UNED) regarding use of Facebook groups as an environment for learning. Based on a structural equation methodology, the research analyzed the most relevant personal and socio-educational factors that affect satisfaction. The sample consisted of 418 undergraduate and master’s degree students at UNED’s Faculty of Education; participants were consulted in three semesters between September 2019 and January 2021. The results showed that students who participated in Facebook study groups achieved better results than those who did not, and that they interacted more frequently in these groups than in UNED’s official learning management system. The main latent variables that influenced satisfaction with Facebook study groups were the perception of efficacy they elicited as a complement to distance learning by enabling greater interaction with other students, and the feeling of course companionship they provided. The absence of teacher control also influenced student satisfaction, which allowed students to focus on learning and achieving better results in tests and exams.



Aaen, J., & Dalsgaard, C. (2016). Student Facebook groups as a third space: Between social life and schoolwork. Learning, Media and Technology, 41(1), 160–186. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2015.1111241

Abdalla, I. (2007). Evaluating effectiveness of e-blackboard system using TAM framework: A structural analysis approach. AACE Journal, 15(3), 279–287

Akcaoglu, M., & Lee, E. (2018). Using Facebook groups to support social presence in online learning. Distance Education, 39(3), 334–352. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2018.1476842

Al-Rahmi, W., Othman, M. S., & Yusuf, L. M. (2015). The role of social media for collaborative learning to improve academic performance of students and researchers in Malaysian higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v16i4.2326

Anderson, E., & Gerbing, D. W. (1988). Structural equation modelling in practice: A review and recommended two-step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 411–423. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.103.3.411

Arteaga, R., Cortijo, V., & Javed, U. (2014). Students’ perceptions of Facebook for academic purposes. Computers & Education, 70, 138–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2013.08.012

Aydin, S. (2012). A review of research on Facebook as an educational environment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 60(6), 1093–1106. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-012-9260-7

Bagozzi, R. P., & Yi, Y. (1988). On the evaluation of structural equation models. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 16, 74–94. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02723327

Bahati, B. (2015). Extending students’ discussions beyond lecture room walls via Facebook. Journal of Education and Practice, 6, 160–171. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1079985.pdf

Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 2(1), 21–41. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-839X.00024

Barrot, J. S. (2016). Using Facebook-based e-portfolio in ESL writing classrooms: Impact and challenges. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 29(3), 286–301. https://doi.org/10.1080/07908318.2016.1143481

Bentler, P. M. (1995). EQS structural equations program manual. http://www.econ.upf.edu/~satorra/CourseSEMVienna2010/EQSManual.pdf

Bhuasiri, W., Xaymoungkhoun, O., Zo, H., Rho, J. J., & Ciganek, A. P. (2012). Critical success factors for e-learning in developing countries: A comparative analysis between ICT experts and faculty. Computers & Education, 58, 843–855. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.010

Butler, P. (2010). Visualizing Facebook friends. https://paulbutler.org/2010/visualizing-facebook-friends/

Callaghan, G., & Fribbance, I. (2016). The use of Facebook to build a community for distance learning students: A case study from the Open University. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 31(3), 260–272. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680513.2016.1229176

Chen, M. (2018). Students’ perceptions of the educational usage of a Facebook group. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 18(4), 332–348. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313220.2018.1434448

Cheung, C. M. K., Chiu, P.-Y., & Lee, M. K. O. (2011). Online social networks: Why do students use Facebook? Computers in Human Behavior, 27(4), 1337–1343. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.07.028

Chiroma, H., Shuib, N., Abubakar, A., Zeki, A. M., Gital, A., Herawan, T., & Abawajy, J. (2016). Advances in teaching and learning on Facebook in higher institutions. IEEE Access, 5, 480–500. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.07.028

Chugh, R., & Ruhi, U. (2018). Social media in higher education: A literature review of Facebook. Education and Information Technologies, 23(2), 605–616. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-017-9621-2

Churcher, K. (2014). “Friending” Vygotsky: A social constructivist pedagogy of knowledge building through classroom social media use. Journal of Effective Teaching, 14(1), 33–50. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1060440

Dalsgaard, C. (2016). Students’ educational use of Facebook groups. Educational Media International, 53(4), 261–273. https://doi.org/10.1080/09523987.2016.1254879

Datu, J., Yang, W., Valdez, J., & Chu, S. (2018). Is Facebook involvement associated with academic engagement among Filipino university students? A cross-sectional study. Computers & Education, 125, 246–253. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.06.010

Davidovitch, N., & Belichenko, M. (2018). Facebook tools and digital learning achievements in higher education. Journal of Education and e-Learning Research, 5(1), 8–14. https://doi.org/10.20448/journal.509.2018.51.8.14

Deaton, S. (2015). Social learning theory in the age of social media: Implications for educational practitioners. Journal of Educational Technology, 12(1), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.26634/JET.12.1.3430

DeLone, W. H., & McLean, E. R. (2003). The DeLone and McLean model of information systems success: A ten-year update. Journal of Management Information Systems, 19(4), 9–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/07421222.2003.11045748

Downes, S. (2007, February 3). What connectivism is. Half an hour. https://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-connectivism-is.html

Eom, S. B., Ashill, N., & Wen, H. J. (2006). The determinants of students’ perceived learning outcomes and satisfaction in university online education: An empirical investigation. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 4(2), 215–235. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4609.2006.00114.x

Feng, B., Li, S., & Li, N. (2016). Is a profile worth a thousand words? How online support-seeker's profile features may influence the quality of received support messages. Communication Research, 43(2), 253–276. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650213510942

Fiock, H. (2020). Designing a community of inquiry in online courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(1), 135–153. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i5.3985

Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equations models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 39–50. https://doi.org/10.2307/3151312

Giannikas, C. (2020). Facebook in tertiary education: The impact of social media in e-learning. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 17(1), 3. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1247596

Goh, C., Rasli, A., Tan, O., & Choi, S. (2019). Determinants and academic achievement effect of Facebook use in educational communication among university students. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 71(1), 105–123. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-05-2018-0116.

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., Anderson, R. E., & Tatham, R. L. (2006). Multivariate data analysis. Prentice-Hall.

Henderson, M., Selwyn, N., & Aston, R. (2017). What works and why? Student perceptions of ‘useful’ digital technology in university teaching and learning. Studies in Higher Education, 42(8), 1567–1579. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1007946

Hew, K. F. (2011). Students’ and teachers’ use of Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(2), 662–676. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.11.020

Junco, R. (2015). Student class standing, Facebook use, and academic performance. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 18–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2014.11.001

Kalelioğlu, F. (2017). Using Facebook as a learning management system: Experiences of pre-service teachers. Informatics in Education, 16(1), 83–101. https://doi.org/10.15388/infedu.2017.05

Kaya, T., & Bicen, H. (2016). The effects of social media on students’ behaviors: Facebook as a case study. Computers in Human Behavior, 59, 374–379. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.036

Kirschner, P., & Karpinski, A. (2010). Facebook® and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237–1245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.024

Kitsantas, A., Dabbagh, N., Chirinos, D. S., & Fake, H. (2016). College students’ perceptions of positive and negative effects of social networking. In T. Issa, P. Isaias & P. Kommers (Eds.), Social networking and education (pp. 225–238). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-17716-8_14

Lambić, D. (2016). Correlation between Facebook use for educational purposes and academic performance of students. Computers in Human Behavior, 61, 313–320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.03.052

Lee, J. (2010). Online support service quality, online learning acceptance, and student satisfaction. The Internet and Higher Education, 13(4), 277–283. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.08.002

Lee, H., Choi, S., & Kang, Y. (2009). Formation of e-satisfaction and repurchase intention: Moderating roles of computer self-efficacy and computer anxiety. Expert Systems with Applications, 36(4), 7848–7859. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eswa.2008.11.005

Liaw, S.-S. (2008). Investigating students’ perceived satisfaction, behavioral intention, and effectiveness of e-learning: A case study of the Blackboard system. Computers & Education, 51(2), 864–873. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2007.09.005

Manca, S., & Grion, V. (2017). Engaging students in school participatory practice through Facebook: The story of a failure. British Journal of Educational Technology, 48(5), 1153–1163. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12527

Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2013). Is it a tool suitable for learning? A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology‐enhanced learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(6), 487–504. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12007

Mazman, S. G., & Usluel, Y. K. (2010). Modeling educational usage of Facebook. Computers & Education, 55(2), 444–453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2010.02.008

Moghavvemi, S., Paramanathan, T., Rahin, N., & Sharabati, M. (2017). Student’s perceptions towards using e-learning via Facebook. Behaviour & Information Technology, 36(10), 1081–1100. https://doi.org/10.1080/0144929X.2017.1347201

Moorthy, K., T’ing, L. C., Wei, K. M., Mei, P. T. Z., Yee, C. Y., Wern, K. L. J., & Xin, Y. M. (2019). Is Facebook useful for learning? A study in private universities in Malaysia. Computers & Education, 130, 94–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.12.002

Niu, L. (2019). Using Facebook for academic purposes: Current literature and directions for future research. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 56(8), 1384–1406. https://doi.org/10.1177/0735633117745161

Nunnally, J., & Bernstein, I. H. (1994). Psychometric theory. McGraw-Hill.

Ozkan, S., & Koseler, R. (2009). Multi-dimensional students’ evaluation of e-learning systems in the higher education context: An empirical investigation. Computers & Education, 53(4), 1285–1296. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2009.06.011

Oztok, M., & Brett, C. (2011). Social presence and online learning: A review of the research. The Journal of Distance Education, 25(3), 1–10. http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32440

Rice, R. E. (1993). Media appropriateness: Using social presence theory to compare traditional and new organizational media. Human Communication Research, 19(4), 451–484. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2958.1993.tb00309.x

Selwyn, N. (2009). Faceworking: Exploring students’ education‐related use of Facebook. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 157–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2005.09.004

Sharma, S. K., Joshi, A., & Sharma, H. (2016). A multi-analytical approach to predict the Facebook usage in higher education. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 340–353. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.09.020

Sheeran, N., & Cummings, D. (2018). An examination of the relationship between Facebook groups attached to university courses and student engagement. Higher Education, 76(6), 937–955. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0253-2

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Connectivism%3A-A-Learning-Theory-for-the-Digital-Age-Siemens/f87c61b964e32786e06c969fd24f5a7d9426f3b4

Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 1. http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

Stacey, E. (2001). Social presence online: Networking learners at a distance. In D. Watson & J. Andersen (Eds.), IFIP World Conference on Computers in Education (pp. 39–48). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-35596-2_4

Statista. (2021). Number of monthly active Facebook users worldwide as of 1st quarter 2021 (in millions). https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/

Sung, E., & Mayer, R. E. (2012). Five facets of social presence in online distance education. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(5), 1738–1747. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.04.014

Tarhini, A., Masa’deh, R., Al-Busaidi, K.A., Mohammed, A.B., & Maqableh, M. (2017). Factors influencing students’ adoption of e-learning: a structural equation modeling approach. Journal of International Education in Business, 10(2), 164–182. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIEB-09-2016-0032

Venkatesh, V., & Bala, H. (2008). Technology acceptance model 3 and a research agenda on interventions. Decision Sciences, 39(2), 273–315. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5915.2008.00192.x

von der Pütten, A. M., Krämer, N. C., Gratch, J., & Kang, S.-H. (2010). “It doesn’t matter what you are!” Explaining social effects of agents and avatars. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1641–1650. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.06.012

Wang, J., Lin, C., Yu, W., & Wu, E. (2013). Meaningful engagement in Facebook learning environments: Merging social and academic lives. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 14(1), 302–322. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1006268



How to Cite

Esteban Vázquez-Cano, & Paz Díez-Arcón. (2021). Facebook or LMS in Distance Education? Why University Students Prefer to Interact in Facebook Groups. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(3), 119–141. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v22i3.5479



Research Articles