While kids may be immersed in the social media world, many schools and districts are still mighty uncomfortable with the idea of using Facebook and other social media forums in the classrooms. But a recent study (Too much face and not enough books: The relationship between multiple indices of Facebook use and academic performance) published last week in Computers in Human Behavior, analyzes 1,839 college students’ survey data about Facebook use and actual grades (as opposed to self-reported grades). It also takes into account students’ high-school GPAs. The results show that Facebook use in and of itself is not detrimental to academic outcome. Author Reynol Junco, a professor at the Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania maintains, “It depends how it’s used.”
Since this is a platform with very little learning curve for most kids, some educators are looking for ways that they can use Facebook to their advantage. Junco offers some suggestions for ways that Facebook can be used effectively in the classroom.
Use Facebook with a Focus. “Instead of telling your students, ‘Hey, we are going to use Facebook for this course,’” Junco says, “it’s important to frame Facebook use in a way that will make sense. For instance, you could say ‘we are going to use a Facebook group in order to interact with each other, discuss course topics, and share links of interest.”
Friend with Caution. Just as it would be appropriate for teachers and students to “hang out” in reality, the same rule applies on the Internet. Avoid “friending” students and use tools that promote a sense of public participation. Use Groups and Pages to communicate with students in an open and transparent way. Both are public and both can be used to compile relevant resources for students.
Consider other Tools. Consider other options beyond Facebook that can facilitate sharing ideas, files, or assignments in a virtual space. Edmodo, Collaborize Classroom and Edublogs are three platforms that are generally not blocked by school filters. Teachers can also control how private they want the blogs to be. They can keep them student-and-teacher only, allow parents to log in with a password, or make them open to the public.
While Facebook and other social media platforms may not ever be fully embraced in the educational system, the key is that some educators are creatively using technology that students already use in a way that helps students connect with each other and provides a forum for academic support. Meeting kids where they are sometimes means that we also have to explore new tools.
Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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