Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't judge Facebook by its cover

We constantly hear the statistics about how Facebook has changed our social world in a stunningly short amount of time.  When I come home from a day's work, I log on to check my email and Facebook simultaneously in two separate tabs.  The spellcheck on my computer will now display a red squiggly line if I do not capitalize the word Facebook.  As much as Facebook has become a part of many people's lives, spanning different generations, there are still many people who look at Facebook as some sort of evil domain.  To me, you could view Facebook as a metaphor for integrating technology into today's classrooms: research shows us the endless ways technology will provide our students with a dynamic education, it is inevitably an integral part of our students' lives, yet there are still many people who view technology in schools as an area that should remain as uncharted territory.

While reading chapter 9 in Richardson's text, I found it interesting that he distinguished two main uses for Facebook: interest-based and friendship-based.  It is interesting to consider the underlying reasons why we use Facebook.  Students do use this networking site for interest-based interactions (i.e. when joining a group or "liking" a cause), "and in these "interest-based" interactions, they are connecting to peers and adults outside of their physical spaces, people who they don't know but with whom they share a passion" (Richardson, 2010, p.131).  The ability to connect and communicate with others both within the classroom and around the world is a 21st century skill that will allow students to collaborate with those who share the same passion and create new ideas.  With this being said, it seems as though Facebook is the most logical outlet to use for promoting these connections.

Richardson mentions the use of Facebook across classrooms in the US to be very scarce.  The stigmas that come along with Facebook are also difficult to erase.  However, I had to think of the implications I personally would face if I were to consider using Facebook in my classroom.  First, I think it would be necessary to dedicate at least two lessons or more to strictly go over the difference between using Facebook for personal reasons and using Facebook for educational purposes.  I feel as though students are going to have a hard time making this distinction.  The other thought that crossed my mind was, do I want to take a site that is typically used as a leisurely activity and turn it into a place where my students regard it as another spot to complete an assignment?  In other words, I don't think it is necessary to use Facebook in order to promote the 21st century skills described above.  We can teach our students how to "leverage for learning" through other Web 2.0 tools that will cover the same standards and elicit the same results (Richardson, 2010, p.133).  I feel that it would be difficult to take the social and friendship-based aspect of Facebook away from students and I don't know that I want to do that, especially when I know I can meet my goals through other resources.  At the same time, I could see showing students the ways Facebook can be used to connect to people with similar ideas. I think there needs to be a balance between letting students continue to use technology as a part of their personal lives and taking the skills they are unknowingly gaining from these interactions and using them to further their education in the classroom.

If you are interested in using Facebook in your classroom, this video has some pretty interesting ideas! Check it out!


  1. I really like this post because it addresses the same concerns I had about using Facebook in the classroom. Facebook is a social network, and I agree “it would be difficult to take the social and friendship-based aspect of Facebook away from students.” Nevertheless, after watching the video above, I do think that teachers may be able to use Facebook in an innovative way. For example, many parents use Facebook every day, and I think that this online social network would be a great way to keep parents involved, informed and connected. Teachers can create a class group page and use Facebook to post updates on projects, school trips, and upcoming school events. I really think parents would benefit because Facebook is a tool that so many people are already familiar with using. Even if teachers choose not to create a group for students, I can definitely see teachers using Facebook to communicate and stay connected with parents in the future.

  2. I think using Facebook in the classroom is a definite possibility, but there are repercussions to using a social network like Facebook. I feel as though a lot of school administrators might frown upon the use of Facebook because of the social and friendship based aspect. I know that many schools tell their teachers to not accept friend requests from students. I agree with this, and feel as though I would never want to be Facebook friends with one of my students due to the fact that it is my private life and private friends. I would contemplate using Facebook if I made a seperate teacher account, however I do feel as though it is very dependent on the district and what the school allows.

  3. What a great and informative post! I have always been a bit uneasy about utilizing facebook in the classroom but you have really made a great post about it. As Samantha has said, privacy is a problem. Facebook makes it so easy to access information and talk to peers but when a teacher's personal life comes into picture, it gets a little more complicated.

  4. Interesting points. Students may not think of the many ways that Facebook can be used outside of socialization if we do not address it in school. They may also not think of the ramifications of using Facebook in negative social ways either. They need guidance in this area as well. If they had more instruction, than maybe some of the negative behavior (such as bullying, etc) would stop. It is also important for the students to think about how colleges and employers search Facebook to find out information about candidates. Students should be more conscious of how Facebook can be used positively to promote themselves. This is something they can learn from educators.