Aug. 31, 2010

Is Your Class on Facebook? Should It Be?

At BLC10, we had the opportunity to have Erin and Devin Schoening, from Council Bluff, Iowa, present a session on how Facebook can be utilized in class with first grade students. You heard it right – first grade. The two explained how Erin’s class uses Facebook every day to connect with the families of her students as well as with other interested educators and administrators. During her session, she described the use of notes, private messages, picture sharing, video sharing, link sharing to keep up a dialogue amongst all of these parties.

As Erin and Devin were quick to explain, this was not an overnight decision. The two worked with district administrators to develop guidelines, strategies and communication policies for how this tool could be used in her classroom. They obviously did their homework, and I applaud the district for thinking about how to best co-op this tool in the classroom.

Obviously, being on the bleeding edge comes with a great deal of praise and a great deal of pause. Does Facebook have any place in our classrooms? Is exposing students to a social networking tool like this appropriate when they are in first grade? What are the privacy concerns? These are all appropriate questions and ones we should be asking with anything we do.

Recently, Jeff Utecht shared a blog post also commending the two on their successes with this program, and the post brought up a lot of discussion – good discussion. Also, he shared the following Prezi.

It’s my hope that all educators take the time to look for ways to innovate, involve administration in this innovation and continue to ask questions about whether or not the tools so many feel are important are really important enough, safe enough and are in alignment with good pedagogy. Some will be, and others won’t. But through the education of all parties, we can make the best decision together and not respond out of what we think we know.

7 Responses to “Is Your Class on Facebook? Should It Be?”

  • Offie Clark

    I think that social sites are important in education. But there are WAY too many distractions on facebook for me, more or less high school kids. I think sites like ning are valuable for class discussion and extending interaction time beyond the allocated period or block.

    A facebook page for a school play or soccer team is different than proctoring your class on facebook. I can endorse the former and not the latter.

    Reply
  • Devin Schoening

    Facebook should not be used to “proctor” a class, and it is not being used that way in the example from this blog post. It is being used as a tool (maybe for an aggregate amount of 10 minutes a day) to help teach writing, synthesizing, digital citizenship and more. And, maybe more importantly, it gives the students an opportunity to engage in an authentic writing opportunity and to get authentic feedback from people beyond the teacher’s desk. This feedback is meaningful.

    We should not shirk the responsibility (to quote Alan November) of teaching students how to appropriately use the internet and to be good digital citizens. We are naive if we believe that students are not utilizing these tools outside of school, and we should be teaching those things. If Facebook or Twitter can be used to make that work, then so be it. It all comes down to the responsibility of those teachers/schools/districts that are using those tools.

    Reply
  • Brian Fahey

    That’s a fantastic use of Facebook. I like the interaction with parents and the use of authentic writing. I’m also inspired by the idea of teaching kids to be responsible digital citizens.

    Reply
  • Rita Oates

    When the International Baccalaureate wanted to have a social learning network for their schools in 130 countries, they looked at many alternatives. They didn’t choose Facebook for a host of reasons (some mentioned by Michael Doyle above).
    They made a list of requirements, looked over everything in the field, and chose a powerful integrated web 2.0 platform designed for use in education, with safety measures built in.
    They licensed the platform, called LearningSpace, customized to fit their instructional needs, and spent the 2009-10 school year with some of their best teachers populating the site with content. Now they are rolling it out to all IB teachers and to MYP and DP students starting in August 2010. For IB staff and students, and IB alumni, it’s free. Schools have to raise their hand and say they want it.
    See a three-minute video with examples of what it all looks like: http://bit.ly/IBvideo
    (IB folks: ask for it at: http://ibo.epals.com)
    Individual schools or districts can license the same virtual workspace optimized for creating, sharing, managing and collaborating on educational content…with integrated web 2.0 tools…at http://learningspace.epals.com

    Reply
  • Ben Warrington

    I think many more parents would be enthusiastic about being involved with the class if the class was on Facebook regularly. With 300 million users, many parents, especially parents of elementary aged children are already on Facebook and can easily access updates about class and curriculum. Food for thought.

    Reply
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    1. Keith Ozsvath says:

      I have been using Facebook for over a year to connect our MS band program with parents and the community. It is just another way, in addition to Twitter, email, and blogging, to communicate what is going on. It is a great way to post links, pictures, and videos!

    2. Michael Doyle says:

      There are a lot of reasons schools should not be using Facebook formally as a classroom tool. Here are some of them.

    3. Offie Clark says:

      I think that social sites are important in education. But there are WAY too many distractions on facebook for me, more or less high school kids. I think sites like ning are valuable for class discussion and extending interaction time beyond the allocated period or block.

      A facebook page for a school play or soccer team is different than proctoring your class on facebook. I can endorse the former and not the latter.

    4. Devin Schoening says:

      Facebook should not be used to “proctor” a class, and it is not being used that way in the example from this blog post. It is being used as a tool (maybe for an aggregate amount of 10 minutes a day) to help teach writing, synthesizing, digital citizenship and more. And, maybe more importantly, it gives the students an opportunity to engage in an authentic writing opportunity and to get authentic feedback from people beyond the teacher’s desk. This feedback is meaningful.

      We should not shirk the responsibility (to quote Alan November) of teaching students how to appropriately use the internet and to be good digital citizens. We are naive if we believe that students are not utilizing these tools outside of school, and we should be teaching those things. If Facebook or Twitter can be used to make that work, then so be it. It all comes down to the responsibility of those teachers/schools/districts that are using those tools.

    5. Brian Fahey says:

      That’s a fantastic use of Facebook. I like the interaction with parents and the use of authentic writing. I’m also inspired by the idea of teaching kids to be responsible digital citizens.

    6. Rita Oates says:

      When the International Baccalaureate wanted to have a social learning network for their schools in 130 countries, they looked at many alternatives. They didn’t choose Facebook for a host of reasons (some mentioned by Michael Doyle above).
      They made a list of requirements, looked over everything in the field, and chose a powerful integrated web 2.0 platform designed for use in education, with safety measures built in.
      They licensed the platform, called LearningSpace, customized to fit their instructional needs, and spent the 2009-10 school year with some of their best teachers populating the site with content. Now they are rolling it out to all IB teachers and to MYP and DP students starting in August 2010. For IB staff and students, and IB alumni, it’s free. Schools have to raise their hand and say they want it.
      See a three-minute video with examples of what it all looks like: http://bit.ly/IBvideo
      (IB folks: ask for it at: http://ibo.epals.com)
      Individual schools or districts can license the same virtual workspace optimized for creating, sharing, managing and collaborating on educational content…with integrated web 2.0 tools…at http://learningspace.epals.com

    7. Ben Warrington says:

      I think many more parents would be enthusiastic about being involved with the class if the class was on Facebook regularly. With 300 million users, many parents, especially parents of elementary aged children are already on Facebook and can easily access updates about class and curriculum. Food for thought.

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