I don’t know who is reading this; in fact, I don’t know who you are probably. But I do know something about you. You’re on facebook, twitter, and/or myspace. I have wasted so much of my life sitting in front of this screen learning so much useless information about the smallest, most minute details of my “friends'” lives. Did you know that Tara is at Sinbad with Joey? In any other context, my response would be somewhere along the lines of “who cares?” (Who cares being the blogger-friendly version of what I would probably say). But on Facebook I can choose to “like” this or to comment on this. Yes, we could sit here and discuss the destruction of our minds by the corrupting takeover of facebook, but let’s concentrate on something a little more constructive, shall we?
Social networking definitely has a bad name in schools. Hm, why could that be? Cyberbullying, classroom distraction, ability to post inappropriate material, etc. Cyberbullying is a hugggeee issue; there is no way we can stop it or it’s damaging effects besides forcing facebook to shut down. When you are young, you are trying to “fit in,” whatever that means, to the standards, to what is expected of teenagers by their peers. It’s just another means of making teens feel even more self concious about their image.
So how can we turn that around and make Facebook a positive tool in the classroom? I’m going to brainstorm some ways that we can use facebook in our classrooms that you may find useful someday as a future educator. If you come up with any while reading this, add them as a comment!
1-Have students write poetry on their walls or send them as messages to other students in the class to review and leave comments.
2-Split the class up into different groups and give them a topic to research. Have them create a facebook group or page on that topic.
3-If you’re teaching history, give your students a historical person to research. Let them create a facebook page for that person, including important information and things they might say or do (have Thomas Jefferson talk smack on Alexander Hamilton’s wall. If you are a history nerd like me, this sounds like the greatest idea ever).
4-Use facebook as research! Clearly the students need to know that facebook is not fact. But if you are doing a sociological project, for example, examining where the seniors are going to college (based upon their educational information), and what the “average” distance is that they are travelling. This would need to be done in a small controlled setting, with the individuals’ consent, but you get the picture.
5-Have students take pictures of what they are learning about in Biology class and upload it to facebook. See if other students can identify the object.
6-creative writing: start off the story with an introduction like “it was July 23rd, around 11am. I was walking back from Ben’s house when…” have the students leave comments on this status and see where the story goes.
These are only a few ideas; I am not the most creative person. But if you have ideas, add them! Can we take the “bad” out of facebook? No: using facebook in school is risky. If you choose to use facebook for educational purposes, you need to really plan for any scenario. If there is a way that the students can do something inappropriate with the lesson, they’ll find it out, and will probably do it. But just like my previous blog post, I will stress the need to use what the students are using outside of school to make learning more meaningful. It will be hard using facebook in a positive way that won’t lead to issues in the classroom. But the more planning you put into it, the better the lesson will be.