Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Social Media in the Classroom

I think this was the most interesting module so far. Like most people these days, I'm a big user of the Internet and social media and I find the idea of using those things in the classroom to be really cool and potentially very innovative. I particularly love the idea of class blogs. Giving students a way to share their thoughts and ideas with more people than just the teacher could be so beneficial and even fun for the students. The ability to discuss class subjects on a blog could also be really helpful for kids who are a little intimidated by the idea of giving feedback to a peer or asking adults questions. I really love the idea of every student having his or her own space.

When Facebook is brought into the discussion, my feelings do change a bit. I definitely see the possibilities. I read "100 Ways You Should be Using Facebook in Your Classroom" and there were some neat ideas there. I particularly liked the idea of having students pick a favorite character from a book the class has read and creating a Facebook page for that character. It's a different way of doing a character study, one that I think most students would really enjoy. I also think using Facebook groups to create a class page, one that can be accessed by students or students and parents, is intriguing. I can see how something that is based in a technology that a lot of kids and parents already use would get more looks and interaction. You can do all the things a class group does on a class blog or through something like ANGEL, but you have to hope students check in regularly. Most people I know who use Facebook use it a lot which means class-related information is right there all the time.

I see more negatives with Facebook than some of the other platforms. Sarah Steward hits on my immediate concern about Facebook in "Just to Let You Know... Facebook Does Not Have the Ability to Cure Cancer, Solve Global Warning, or Make You a Better Teacher" when she writes, "Ask yourself is it ethically responsible to insist that your students have a Facebook account when there are clear concerns about confidentiality and what Facebook does with personal information." Many students and parents have put aside these issues and already have Facebook accounts, but some haven't. If they don't have a Facebook account - whether it's for similar concerns or some other reason - I feel that's really a decision they should make themselves. I'm not very comfortable with the idea of making Facebook membership a requirement for class. As neat as some of the ideas we read about are, the majority of them can be done through a different platform, one that doesn't require so much personal information.

While it's not something I'd thought of, I also thought her point about the intermingling of school and personal life and how some kids might resent that was an interesting one. I hate having work and school emails come to my personal email address and use a different address for the three things if I can. I can see how, as a teenager, I might not like getting notifications about more school stuff when I really just want to tell everyone that I dumped my boyfriend or post some pictures from the party last weekend. I also wonder if it's a good idea to have educational things tied in with something that's such a time suck. When I sign in to ANGEL, the only thing on the screen in front of me is school-related stuff. When I sign into Facebook, school notifications will be mixed in with new pictures of my nieces and nephews, messages from friends and family, and links to things I want to read. Even now as an adult, I know I'd struggle with having the discipline to focus when signed into my Facebook account. It seems like it would be even more challenging for a young person.

But while I think I would ultimately come down on the side of not using Facebook in the classroom, there are definitely some really fun possibilities for it. One of my favorite things in school was when we did a unit on various Presidents. A teacher could assign each student a President, have them do some research, and then use that research to create a Facebook page/profile for that President. Biographical information can be used to fill out the profile, career accomplishments can be listed, and Presidents can friend political allies or other Presidents that shared similar ideologies. I also really like the idea of occasionally using a Facebook group page for class discussions. I was a smart student who generally found class discussions interesting, but I was also on the shy side and didn't always feel comfortable voicing my opinion. Discussions via Facebook give kids who are more comfortable and confident in writing a different way to express themselves and it gives the teacher a better idea of how much those students do or don't understand about the subject material. EDIT: I have par


  1. I totally agree with you, if you do use Facebook in the class room and allow students do use it for assignments and notes and such outside of class you really need to think about whether or not they are truly checking it as frequent as they should. As well as when they are on it are they focusing all of their attention on the class material. Like everything else in the world though its a win lose situation. of course not all students will us it correctly and fully. Some will probably even abuse it. With this ever changing technology society we have around us, we must really think it it worth the shot? what do we have to lose?

  2. I really enjoyed reading this and thought it was so well written! The quotes you chose to include really agreed well with the points you were making. Although the blog i wrote was focused on the oppostie side of this, I do agree with how personal stories and strictly school related things could get intermixed and caused distractions. In a few of the articles I read, I believe there are ways to create your Facebook page that it is strictly seen only by your fellow classmates and teacher, which would eliminate these potential hazards. Great job!

  3. You make a great point about families needing to make the decision if FB is right for them. Certainly not every family would agree that it should be available-- even if it is for educational purposes.

    As always, a well written and insightful post.