Do Popular Social Networking Applications Have AÂ Place In The Classroom? A Growing Number Of Educators Say ‘Yes'.
The post, â€œ100 Ways To Teach With Twitterâ€, is one of the most consistently viewed article on this site.Â Similarly, â€œFacebook As An Instructional Technology Toolâ€, resulted inÂ the 2nd most trafficked day here in 2010. While Facebook and Twitter are both hugely popularÂ Internet tools, I still find myself a little surprised by the popularity of these posts, consideringÂ the academic perspective of this site. Many teachers,Â even thoseÂ atÂ online universities,Â are hesitant to use such popular tools, given their inherent risk of exposingÂ students to inappropriate content.
Of course these areÂ two very different types of tools, but theyÂ both have their place in the social networking sphere. Facebook's place is at the top of the heapÂ (as of this writingÂ it is the second most popular site on the Internet, right behindÂ Google), whileÂ Twitter defined the genre of ‘microblogging' (but much of its use isÂ also in a social networking context).
It appears that TwitterÂ is more widely used in the classroom,Â based on the volume of articles about this topic that I have come across. One obvious reason for this difference is that Facebook is limited toÂ ages 13 and over, while Twitter has noÂ age restrictions. Facebook is also more likely to be restricted on school networks. Perhaps if teachers were more aware of how a Facebook page and profiles can be configured to provide an appropriate level of privacy for course work, they (and school administrators) might be more open to considering it's use (more on that below). Of course, there are also other educational scenarios that lend themselves more readily to a tool like Facebook, such asÂ online universitiesÂ and online courses.
Here are a few of theÂ examples of Facebook playing a productive role in the classroom that I have come across. I will be doing a presentation at Campus Technology 2011 in Boston this July about the use of popular social networking applications in the classroom and IÂ will discuss examples like these, and others that I learn about in the coming months.
- Professor GideonÂ Burton's work with Facebook: I first learned about Professor Burton fromÂ student Kristen Nicole. SheÂ commented,Â â€œIn my British Literary History course last winter semester, my professor created a class facebook group which we all joined.Â Weâ€™d finish our reading for class and then get online and write a paragraph about what weâ€™d read, focusing our comments on the specific course aims that my professor had created for the class.Â We would then go to class where my professor would note the ways in which weâ€™d covered the material well and heâ€™d teach anything we missed as well as anything else he wanted us to know.â€Â I collaborated with Kristen to write this popular post about this experience, and Professor Burton later weighed in and commented. Click here to visit aÂ Facebook discussion group for one of Professor Burton's Early British Lit classes.
- University of SouthÂ Florida teacher uses Facebook in class: I recently came across this article about USF graduate student Alessandro Cesarano, who teaches a Beginning Spanish class, andÂ uses Facebook for homework assignments and class discussions in lieu of Blackboard. Cesarano says, â€œI like the Facebook page better than Blackboard because students have more access to authentic cultural material, and I don't have to waste class time teaching them how to use a new program because many of them already use Facebook.â€
- Texas Kindergarten Teacher communicating with Parents via Facebook: Kindergarten teacher Matt Gomez wrote aÂ couple posts on his blog,Â mattgomez.posterous.com, about hisÂ use of Facebook as a tool to communicate withÂ parents. In this post, he explained that he had, â€œbeen toying with the idea of the page for several months. The main reason is Facebook has 500 million+ users. This is a tool that most parents know how to use and use on a consistent basis. Why struggle to make parents visit your website or blog when you can meet them in a place they already visit online?â€ In this post, he provides some observations about how it worked out.
- Classroom 2.0 Discussion Forum: ThisÂ discussion threadÂ has a number ofÂ comments fromÂ educators whoÂ have used Facebook in the educational setting, such asÂ these comments fromÂ …
- Jason Graham:Â â€œI've been using FaceBook with grade 1 …….yes grade 1. Most of the parents are on FB so its a convenient way to communicate with them, and they can send private messages as well. Most of the parents are busy on the go people who use their Blackberries and FB, Twitter etc to communicate. Its convenient for all. Plus it provides a digital record.â€
- Anne De Manser: â€œI use facebook with my students in several ways. I find it is a great way to provide positive role modelling in an online environment by making positive comments on their facebook walls and by providing them a window into the way my ‘public ‘ face looks online. It's just another way of communicating and building relationships with our school community.â€
Setting Up a Facebook Group for Your Class
If you wish to learn more about how best to configure things in Facebook for use in a course based application, here are a few resources that provide guidance.
First, there is this document (link no longer working – KW 2/20/12) fromÂ Elon University, which offers details on how to set up profiles and course content, following this basic approach:
- Create a teacher profile separate from your personal profile
- Ask Â students to create a limited profile with controlled settings, and to friend your new teacher profile
- Create Lists & Groups for your classes
- The document then goes on to discuss how to use various Facebook tools as part of the instructional process
You may also want to watch these YouTube videos from “JayDsfsu“, which illustrate “The Basics of a Facebook Page for Educators“, “Privacy on Facebook for Educators“, “Setting Up a Facebook Group for Your Class“, and more.
Other ideas for using Facebook in the classroom
For those interested in giving Facebook a shot as part of their instructional process, here's a few more sources of ideas about thingÂ you might want to try:
- 100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook In Your Classroom
- 15 Facebook Apps Perfect For Online Education
- How To Use Facebook Questions In The Classroom
ARE YOU USING FACEBOOK IN THE CLASSROOM? Please be sure to let us know about it! In the next few weeks we'll continue this dialogue about Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking apps in the classroom, including someÂ that are designed specifically for education. I'd love to hear, and share, your success story with these types of tools, so please don't hesitate to reach out, either in a comment below, or through the contact page. Thanks!
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Facebook as an Instructional Technology Tool
5 Reasons Why Educators Need To Embrace Internet Technologies
100 Ways to Teach With Twitter