Facebook for Information Sharing
Greenhow, C., Gibbins, T., & Menzer, M. (in press). Re-thinking scientific literacy out-of-school: Arguing science issues in a niche Facebook application. Computers in Human Behavior.
In this article, the authors tackle a commonly discussed issue in society; young adults tackling socio-scientific issues on social media platforms. The authors utilized a Facebook application called Hot Dish that involves users in discussions of environmental issues. Users ages 16-25 were invited to participate in a research study. The content was entirely user generated and each comment was coded for argument type by the researchers.
The authors chose a population that is arguably challenging to study in their free time. This is a notoriously difficult population to engage, and choosing people who are already logging on to the site is probably selecting a group that is already engaged. Inevitably, some of the participants will leave comments without much thought and lacking in proper argumentative principles. Facebook was a strange choice for this study, as general Internet forums seem like a better option for this study as they attract users of all ages with an interest in the given topic.
While not directly relevant to my personal research, the sharing of user-determined information on social media platforms has been a very hot topic in the news in recent years. Teaching proper argumentative skills, as broken down in the literature here, is an intriguing answer to the question of how we regulate online information sharing. If we determine that communication over highly-debated issue is a big part of scientific literacy, teaching argumentative skills should be a larger learning focus.