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Facebook Summit 2011, an Excellent Academic Use of the Popular Internet App

by Kelly Walsh on May 1, 2011


Come meet Aristotle Bedford, Vlad Dracul Bedfordii, and Tommy Jefferson Bedford … and the teacher and students who created them!

Canadian 9th Grade ELA Teacher Richard Cossette developed this highly engaging and fun project for his students, with Facebook playing a central role. Mr. Cossette did a wonderful job of defining and executing this, and I am delighted to be able to share his work here.

I am going to publish this post in two parts – the first part will lay out the basic concept behind the project, and the assignment. Part two (which I will publish next Sunday) will provide examples of some of the work done by students who participated in the project, and a look at the how this project met specific learning objectives met.

The Idea
The process begins with the distribution of this well designed introductory pamphlet.  Next, conversations occur regarding expectations, privacy issues, and cyber-etiquette.  These are wonderful learning moments as the students are eager to begin and highly willing to consider these issues as they think about how they will accomplish the task of “becoming” a historical person in the modern age.

The summit begins once each and every student has chosen a person, had the selection approved, and created an acceptable Facebook profile. From here on, the Summit is largely dictated by the student contributions.  Aristotle acts merely as facilitator.  The summit lasts 1-2 weeks and culminates in some sort of democratic simulation, be it election or referendum. Students must keep their identity a secret until the summit conclusion. Students are asked to reflect upon their experiences and write about these reflections as a final evaluation (more evaluation breakdown in pamphlet).

The Assignment
Below I have provided a few of the assignment specifics (from the pamphlet), to give further insights into this fun project:

Part I – Choose a leader/thinker from any time in history and design a Facebook campaign in an attempt to help them become the newly appointed World Leader.

  • Research your leader, obtaining all the information required to create a Facebook profile.
  • Research and identify your leader’s views on the following: worldview, political ideology, human rights, etc.
  • Either locate a series of at least 10 quotes from your historical figure that summarize their views, or write a series of your own, or both.  These shall become Status Updates to be posted 2x daily during the week-long summit.

In one fold of the pamphlet, Cossette poses this compelling thought piece to provide additional background and capture the student’s interests and imaginations:

Will your leader have what it takes to influence the course of history?”
“We live in a time of unprecedented technological growth and political upheaval.  This is indeed the most exciting time in the history of our species.
We also live in a time of great crisis however.  Climate change, water, food shortages, energy, poverty, and the threat of nuclear devastation are but a few of the challenges we face as a globe.
Thanks to recent advancements in time travel, we can now address these issues with the help of the greatest leaders and thinkers of all time.
Welcome to Facebook Summit 2011, A one-of-a-kind event of unprecedented importance!”

Part II – Post-Summit Reflection
As the conference winds down, students are asked to write a response to the following questions:

  • How do we avoid a potentially devastating global Collapse?
  • What key factors must we consider?
  • What role can our knowledge about the past play?
  • What specific actions are required?
  • How must our current worldview change?

Next Week
Please return next week as we learn about several of the engaging characters that the students have created (for a sneak peek, here’s one example), review student feedback, and learn about how the project connects to defined learning objectives from Saskatchewan’s education curriculum.

My sincere thanks to Richard Cossette for sharing this wonderful work and all this great content with us!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Facebook In The Classroom. Seriously.
Do you use Facebook or Twitter in the classroom (or know someone who does)?
Facebook as an Instructional Technology Tool
Inspiring Learning Outcomes with Twitter in the Kindergarten Classroom


Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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