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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.