Researchers from the University of Gothenburg (UGOT), Sea For Society (SFS) Partner and Area Leader for Sweden, and from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) published a study on the use of Facebook by marine experts to promote ocean literacy among citizens.
The researchers investigated the Facebook page of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the impact on users’ ocean literacy.
The study shows that the Facebook page contributes to raise users’ interest and provides opportunity to learn about ocean issues. However, Facebook pages do not present the appropriate social context for developing literacy through participation, namely because they do not foster discussion. Researchers also concluded that posting practices such as posting stories with videos and photos help to reach a wider audience than posting texts and links. Shared stories are one of the most important tools to increase participation and develop learning. Additionally, the frequency of posting proved important to reach a wider audience.
The study states that “Facebook offers the opportunity to reach a wide range of people with a more or less developed personal interest in science and to develop that interest. (…) Nevertheless, the ease of social networking sites (SNS) access and their encouragement of social interactions does not ensure success. It is key for scientific organizations eager to benefit from the use of SNSs to be knowledgeable about the particular SNS they intend to use because each SNS has their own rules, features, users and habits.”
These findings on the potential of the internet, and specifically of the SNSs, to promote citizens’ scientific literacy will contribute to the SFS project’s discussion and definition of the Mobilization activities that is currently undergoing, namely of activities based in the internet. These activities are being prepared, supported by the results from the Consultation phase, and will be decided at the next meeting of the SFS Consortium at the Sea Academy, next December. The Mobilization phase will start in the beginning of 2015, at the national and European levels.
Source: Fauville G., Dupont S., von Thun S. & Lundin J., Can Facebook be used to increase scientific literacy? A case study of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Facebook page and ocean literacy, Computers & Education (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.11.003.