Ways to use Facebook effectively in class

Ways to use Facebook effectively in class

Summary: How to use Facebook as a classroom resource rather than a gimmick.


Can social media be used effectively in class?

There is a growing number of education professionals that believe the answer is 'yes'. Although you may scan your Facebook or Twitter feeds in the morning and see nothing more interesting than what someone had for breakfast this morning, there are many valuable education resources that can be exploited by teachers in the classroom.

Facebook as a communication platform can be used to present ideas, for online discussions, to share interesting and relevant material -- including websites, video and images -- and as a way for educators to connect with their students.

There is concern from school administrators and teachers that connecting to students online may have more detrimental effect than benefit -- due to inappropriate communication or content, privacy exploitation or cyberbullying. However, if the correct strictures are put in place and content is monitored, then social media can become a valuable an interactive teaching tool.

Here are ten ways to use Facebook in class:

1.) Set up a dedicated Facebook group for your class

A Facebook group can allow your students to create discussion boards, communicate with each other and their teacher, and can be linked with online projects & other classroom groups. Teachers can use these groups to send out mass messages, reminders, and potentially even post homework assignments.

Rather than link your personal account as a teacher, it may be more appropriate to create a 'class only' profile instead. It may be worth discussing digital citizenship with your students beforehand; and ensure they friend this account after updating their own privacy settings.

Links of interest:

2.) Use Facebook Apps

Facebook is more than a place to tag photos from last night's not-so-clever encounter with tequila. It is now a platform that runs on mobile devices, and can be integrated with applications designed for learning. From news to learning a new language, there are many apps that allow searches and sharing across the platform.

Links of interest:

3.) Follow news feeds

If your students are working on a project involving anything from current affairs to piracy, Facebook news feeds can be an alternative to Twitter in order to enrich a project with real-time opinion and commentary. Not only this, but you can sign up and join groups focusing on certain areas; such as student education, U.S. healthcare, or politics.

4.) Practice foreign languages

As a traveler and advocate of language learning, I found Facebook to be one of best resources in which to find 'language buddies' to practice your writing skills in a secondary language. There are groups that are dedicated to this -- and you can get feedback on your attempts. It is also possible to find events and links to language-based resources.

Links of interest:

5.) Follow figures of interest

This can be done on both Twitter and Facebook, especially since the Timeline roll-out and subscription service began. You do not have to be friends with the person you wish to follow -- as long as they allow subscriptions to their profile, any public updates will appear in the news feed.

Links of interest:

6.) Use the Facebook Timeline for class projects

The Facebook Timeline feature may not be the site's most popular update, but it can be used to create a project more interesting than a traditional Power Point presentation.

Links of interest:

7.) Use Facebook Questions and polls

Why not upload a photo to your class Facebook group and ask your students to comment? There are cases of this feature being used as a way to ask questions or set a class task -- such as identifying a species of animal or important figure. Polls can be also used for research, opinion, or to generate a later classroom discussion.

Links of interest:

8.) Use Facebook to send messages, communicate and collaborate

Facebook is an alternative to sending mass emails out to your students -- so why not use it? Join them all as a group, and post messages, homework, reminders and updates.

Links of interest:

9.) Share multimedia

As a means to enrich learning, resources can be shared across the social networking site. Videos, website links, images and real-time updates from relevant groups, publications or figures can all be exchanged and commented on. For classroom projects or revision purposes, these features can be invaluable for students.

10.) Collaboration

All of these tips hinge on one element that is becoming more important in modern student learning methods -- the need to collaborate on projects. This is why social media is an important educational resource; by allowing real-time contribution to projects, discussion and communication through a tool that many students already use and are comfortable with.

Image credit: Johannes Fuchs


Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Great article

    A refreshing read.
    Your Non Advocate
  • Facebook - An Unstable Environment

    I would suggest that Facebook is not the way to go. The suggestions in the blog are fantastic, all of which can be accomplished in Google. The environment is terribly unstable. The potential of non-educators getting access to information about students and sending unfavorable photos their direction (happened!) makes me encourage teachers to stay clear of Facebook.
  • Facebook as a teaching tool - you're kidding, right?

    An educator encouraging students to join facebook in a school setting so businesses can mine data is absolutely insane. We don't need to help facebook create a huge customer database at the expense of our privacy. There are other ways to connect with kids using internet without giving away our personal info. I don't send my kids to school to use facebook or twitter.

    This "sexy" new "trend" of "digital learning" is merely an opportunity created by outside businesses who have discovered how to steal public education funding for their private profit: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/10/jeb-bush-digitial-learning-public-schools

    We need to put more funding into teacher training and make it a well-paid, respectable profession (like the Finland model) and get these business guys out of the picture. Until academics are respected and we are properly funded (California pays $50,000 per inmate in jail as opposed to $8667 per student in K-12) we will see our public school system destroyed by those who only see our children as a "business opportunity". Our children are not "widgets" and only have one chance at an education.
    Sonja L
    • The Social Media Bandwagon

      Using social media for education is currently a big topic. Oftentimes teachers don't take the time to fully grasp the pros and cons of using tech in their classroom. The bandwagon effect seems to topple all common sense. Social media can be used in the classroom, but teachers need to focus more on primary source content as opposed to reposting or short "sound bites". The are many collaborative tools that fit the bill far better than Facebook, such as Google Apps.

      With all that said social media sites can be used to take a pulse of current themes or to propagate a message or resources. http://edtech2day.com/index.php?main=view_articles&type=blog&view=32
    • You are doing the same thing...

      I agree with the problems you point to with Facebook. The idea Ms Osborne suggests of getting students involved with interactive current events is interesting though. But I don't think Facebook is your savior.

      I also agree with you wen need to put money into teacher training and paying more. But your choice of comparison (California inmates vice student in funding) is weak and misleading. If you divide your 2 #s by the number of total hrs serviced students "generally" are in school 8 hrs a day for 180 days and inmates are "generally" in prisioned 24 hrs a day for 365 days a year. So those 2 #s work out to 6.02 for students per hr and 5.71 for inmates per hr. So per hour students are getting more money than a respective inmate, more so inmates are offered educational programs while in jail. I am not saying that the educational system doesn't need some rectifying, but comparing apples and bananas will not help. We need some sort of institution for corrections and we need some sort of institution for education. Comparing funding doesn't reflect anything.
      Specifcally what do you want to implement out of the Finnish model?
  • Free Facebook Resources

    Facebook may be unstable, but it does house some of the best free educational resources on the Internet. You can find lesson plans, videos, website links, and other stuff related to the new Common Core State Standards at this link: http://on.fb.me/ccssmainmenu
  • Reality Check

    While I do not disregard the concerns expressed by several respondents here, the fact is that students (and parents) ARE on Facebook, regardless of whether or not teachers take advantage of it. Using it for educational purposes simply puts learning opportunities right where students are already spending massive amounts of their time. We have teachers who leverage this through engaging students in class discussions, sharing calendar events, and posting learning artifacts, such as instructional videos. Teachers report fantastic results, both in terms of numbers of visits to their class sites and the quality of the discussions that are occurring. I would assert that a policy of avoiding FB altogether eliminates the opportunity to engage students in discussions of safe and responsible use and to demonstrate these practices.

    If a teacher is still afraid to use Facebook, there are some great alternatives. Edmodo is a fantastic resource that allows teachers to create a "walled garden", eliminating many of the concerns focused on privacy and other safety issues. Of course, the challenge is getting the kids to leave Facebook and actually go there, but it is worth checking out.
  • Second profile = bad idea?

    [quote]Rather than link your personal account as a teacher, it may be more appropriate to create a ???class only??? profile instead.[/quote]
    Doesn't that violate Facebook's terms and conditions???