As many of you have undoubtedly noticed, Facebook has been unblocked since the beginning of the school year. Facebook for those who may be unaware, is a communication device used by almost every student in our district. Facebook is a social networking site where students are able to make connections with others across the world. This is their primary communication device today, apart from texting. Facebook has allowed students to interact with each other using both synchronous (chat) and asynchronous (pictures, videos, wall postings, groups, etc) that was not available when we were growing up.
For many people, allowing students to access Facebook feels wrong and irresponsible. This doesn’t need to be the case. We have a unique opportunity to enter the realm of Facebook and reach our kids on a different level than what has been possible in the traditional classroom. This may not necessarily be an easy task for some, but it could end up being a very meaningful experience for your students.
So instead of casting Facebook into the shadows I suggest you try to harness its power through the use of a Facebook group. Facebook groups are places within Facebook where people with certain interests can come and discuss things they find interesting. What is nice about Facebook groups is that you can communicate in various ways, such as: discussion boards, pictures, videos, and chat. The level at which you use a Facebook Group is really up to you. You could use it as an enrichment activity for your students where you can post interesting things related to your content area. Often enough you could simply post a link to a Web page or to a picture. Exposure sometimes is all that is needed to show kids what they are learning is relevant. You could also use a Facebook Group as an online environment for your classroom. You could have required discussion topics, reflections on a picture or video, or assign homework. The only thing making Facebook a waste of time or irresponsible is our inability to see it as a means to reach our students. They are already there waiting, we just need to catch up.
For more information on how you can use Facebook, check out these resources: