Another dot in the blogosphere?

Facebook, facehook

Posted on: March 1, 2010

[image source, used under CC licence]

Chris Dawson recounts a conversation at the Education Worldwide Summit where two students, one 15 years-old and the other 17, shared their thoughts on social media in education.

Most schools (ours included), frown upon teachers “friending” students. Unfortunately, that has ended badly in enough cases to just make it a generally unwise practice. However, as Miss Smith [one of the students] pointed out in our discussion, there are already mechanisms within Facebook (pages, discussion boards, and other messaging applications) that support communication around a given topic (say a class or a club) without requiring a friend relationship in Facebook.

When I mentioned Ning and the other social media tools that educators often try to leverage to provide social functions without the worries and stigma of Facebook, both students were clear: it’s been tried before and it won’t be successful because students are on Facebook anyway. The utter ubiquity of Facebook certainly makes it a compelling platform for continued learning beyond the classroom. Students have no motivation to check yet another social site; they can barely be bothered with Twitter, let alone 4 Nings for their classes. One more page on Facebook, though? This makes sense.

He goes on to mention how the students weren’t particularly interested in using Facebook in class, but saw it instead as another way to communicate and collaborate when they were out of the confines of the school.

He also makes a good observation that working Facebook-style is reflective of today’s working world. I think that it will also reflect the social lives of these students when they join the workforce.

So if school is meant to prepare our students for work and society, then why aren’t we finding ways to integrate social tools like Facebook into everyday teaching?

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