Monday, March 5, 2012

Can you afford to ignore Facebook as a teacher?

I was in a class of 16-18 year olds the other day to support a teacher as she ran a computer workshop. I am not used to working with people that young so I was blown away to see that the minute these students logged onto their computers, they checked into their Facebook accounts. When we asked them what they used Facebook for, it wasn't evident what they did there other than play games. Clearly, they weren't using it for professional networking or learning.

Why do students love Facebook?
I can see how annoying it must be for teachers when they are trying their best to teach students but cannot tear them away from Facebook. At the same time, teachers have to ask themselves hard questions...what is it about my teaching that is not engaging students?  Why is it that Facebook holds students' attention but my class doesn't?

Integrating Facebook into teaching
I have never taught young people... the youngest person I have taught is 18/19 years old and very motivated to learn in class. But I have been reflecting on the old adage...if you can't beat them, join them! Rather than ban Facebook in class, would teachers be better off thinking about how they can integrate Facebook into their teaching and into courses? At the very least, Facebook can be used effectively for communicating with students, and encouraging discussion and sharing of resources.

If you're a teacher and would like some ideas about how you can use Facebook in your class, here are 100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom.

Do you use Facebook to do you use it? If you are a student, would you like to see your teacher use Facebook in class?

Image: 'Laptop desks in the computer science building'

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