MELANIE JOY GUNIO

Discussions are necessary for learning in a class to take place. With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, opportunities for discussion have been limited depending on learners’ access to technology and the Internet, especially in the Philippines where this is one of the major issues in the shift to remote learning. This limitation has profound influences in the process and quality of the learning experience where the reduction of transactional distance (Moore, 2019) is critical through the development of the interdependent elements of the teaching, social and cognitive presence (Garrison, Anderson, Archer, 2000). Facebook is one of the main social media platforms used by Filipinos who are reported to spend the greatest amount of time online (Kemp, 2021). As such, with the onset of the pandemic, most teachers turned to Facebook and used it as a learning platform to reach more students. With regards to promoting class discussion, the online discussion forum (ODF) is a well-known instructional strategy for remote learning, usually conducted through discussion boards in various learning platforms (Vijayavalsalan, 2018). This study aimed to determine how an ODF using Facebook, can be used successfully as an instructional strategy for remote learning in tertiary education. The research used case study method by documenting qualitative data on learner participation in ODFs via Facebook groups across five tertiary education classes. This was conducted during the second semester of AY 2020-2021 when COVID-19 forced universities to move to remote learning. Content analysis of documented observations in learner participation was done to reveal themes on practices that promote effective usage. The study reported that Facebook groups can be used effectively as an ODF tool for instruction in remote learning given the following considerations: (1) questions which stimulate intellectual and/or affective interaction with content, instructor, and peers; (2) timely instructor feedback for stirring the direction of conversations; (3) asynchronous discussions taken tentatively for complementing with synchronous sessions; (4) appropriateness, frequency, and timeliness of postings. As a ubiquitous and accessible platform, Facebook groups used as ODFs have the potential of allowing learning to reach a wider group of students but only with a careful consideration of how users shape and are shaped by this media platform.