Using Facebook in a classroom can bring a lot of controversy. When I first heard Facebook could be used for educational purposes, I was surprised as some people might say it is not the right place for that and there is no way it could be useful for students to use in a classroom. However, after giving it a chance and doing some research about the subject, I discovered many amazing ways to use Facebook as a learning tool. Let me share my findings with you, I hope to make you change your mind if you are still skeptical.
As mentioned in class by Mark Miller, doing a closed group with your students is a very good way to get the students to write something without necessarily realising that they are doing it as schoolwork. Also it is an easy way to share files, blogs, interesting articles, jokes (in English), and more. Another advantage is that teenagers nowadays are pretty much always on Facebook, which means the teacher knows they are going to see it if he posts something, unlike if you send them something on the school website. Another thing mentioned by Mr. Miller was the fact that a student will be more willing to ask a question to the entire group rather than just to one person, and other students might have the same question and actually be glad somebody asked it. It is then a good way to help each other and share information with the group.
I mentioned the use of a closed group for a very good reason: you are doing a group for the class, and only the class. It needs to be a place where students know they can share information in a safe and confidential way. Also, talking about safety, it is important to know that it is not necessary to add the students to be in a group with them. As mentioned by Mr. Miller, teachers are responsible for what they see so they need to make sure they do not see things they would have rather like not to see. It is important to think about it before adding students on Facebook. I found a very interesting website that gives tips to teachers who want to use Facebook in their classroom, and also gives ways to use Facebook in class. (http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/ultimate-guide-to-use-of-facebook-in.html) A good way they suggest to keep some privacy is to create a different account for professional life. They also say that teachers should make sure that students know what they can or cannot share on the classroom group. Parents should approve the idea of using Facebook in class, and the list goes on. If a teacher plans on using Facebook in a classroom, he or she should definitely have a look at this website. I believe that it is extremely important to keep your privacy with students, it is important to make a bridge between personal and professional life.
Also, concerning teachers, there are many different Facebook groups that can be related to teaching tips, teaching activities, and more. As an example, teachers from Quebec City have decided to create a group in which ESL Teachers can share different kinds of activities, questions and comments. It is very interesting for me, as a student who wants to become an English teacher, to see some tricks, activities or questions that experienced ESL teachers have. In other words, Facebook is a very good way to share experience as well.
Coming back to ways to use Facebook as a learning tool, I found two different websites giving me 100 ways to use Facebook in class. Isn’t that convincing that there is a lot of ways Facebook can be useful in education?
The first one (http://www.edudemic.com/100-updated-ways-to-use-facebook-in-your-classroom/), talks about using Facebook as a resource, to give projects and assignments, to share information, to have discussions, and even to do classroom management. The ways are endless! It can go from sharing personal journals in the L2 to simply highlighting some of the best work students have done and encourage them to keep up the good work. The main goal of Facebook being to share, why not use it in a useful way and share educational information?
The second one (http://www.onlinecollege.org/2009/10/20/100-ways-you-should-be-using-facebook-in-your-classroom/) brings up benefits of Using Facebook with students, which I find very interesting. It is said that Facebook has an inviting atmosphere, which basically means that students won’t see it as an educational task, but more as a place to share anything that can be related to English. It can be jokes, funny videos, and more. Also, using a school portal can sometimes be confusing for children and teenagers, mostly when the portal seems to have been created in the eighties. It is then easier for them to find their way on a social network that they use on a daily basis. Another good point is that is increases responsibility in the students, teaching them how to use social networks in a safer way.
However, after finding all these positive reasons of using Facebook in class, I thought: there must be negative points as well. I did find a few reasons and one of them caught my attention. It is said on (http://classroom.synonym.com/negative-effects-using-technology-todays-classroom-4130.html) that students can overuse social networks. In other words, considering that the tasks given to the students are on Facebook, they must go on the social network to find the information and can easily be distracted and go off-task. This is the only main negative point I found about using Facebook as a classroom context.
To summarise, I am convinced of the positive effects of using Facebook in education and believe teachers should have a thought about using it. Obviously, it is not the kind of website you would use with an elementary school, it is important to know who you are teaching, but it might be a very useful tool. With a high school class, I would definitely give it a try!