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Facebook as an edutainment medium to engage students in sustainability and tourism

Annica Isacsson (Tourism Degree Programme, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Kerava, Finland)
Ulrike Gretzel (Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 22 March 2011




Emerging technologies offer an ever expanding variety of means to support and enrich learning environments. However, there is currently a lack of information on how to best implement new media in tourism and hospitality education. This paper aims to describe an example of an international, collaborative learning project that involves Facebook so that future practice regarding social media use in teaching can be informed.


This paper adopts a case study approach to describe in detail how Facebook was used to foster self‐directed learning about sustainable tourism.


The findings presented in the paper are based on the postings of the students in Facebook as well as student and faculty reflections on the success of the project. Overall, the project was a success and led to the construction of a useful, current and engaging knowledge base about sustainable tourism. Also, the students appreciated the more informal learning environment. However, there were clear barriers to collaboration that could not be overcome by using Facebook. In addition, not all students were equally engaged and some clearly lacked experience with the medium.


The paper documents the use of Facebook in support of a collaborative learning project to illustrate the potential of social media in creating engaging learning environments. It situates the case study in the theoretical discussion of the value of edutainment and the promise of social media to foster self‐directed and social learning. The findings provide theoretical implications for the conceptualization of social media use in education and practical implications for tourism and hospitality educators who would like to integrate social media in their teaching.



Isacsson, A. and Gretzel, U. (2011), "Facebook as an edutainment medium to engage students in sustainability and tourism", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 81-90.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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