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  • The following presentation will outline some of the pedagogical uses and limitations of facebook. I will outline the affordances that are listed in the Handbook of Emerging Learning Technologies, and I will then try to address some of the suggestions for using Facebook that are described in the We Are Media project. My focus is on using Facebook as a Pedagogical tool. I wanted to explore its features because it is so predominant, and since educators are commonly having to compete with this resource, I wanted to explore the idea of incorporating it into the classroom.  
  • Currently, there is a debate about the value of using this space for instructional purposes. Some feel that it is a social venue for students that should not be invaded. Others, see some real benefits to using it in class. Instead of banning it because it is a distraction why not use it to interact with our students and engage them, using tools with which they are familiar. This presentation is designed to examine the pros and cons.
  • One argument is that the students of today are not engaged. Instructors are having to compete with facebook. Some schools are banning facebook, but others think that using it as an instructional tool will increase the level of engagement that students have with course materials. There are some useful educational applications that could be used: sharing notes, thoughts, questions, resources for discussion, or other sharing other resources that students create themselves (videos, blogs, or comments about each other’s work). There are lots of valuable applications. Second, it will create a community forum for the class. This is a strong argument, and I could see the value of using facebook, depending on the group and the need for community building. Many people are already using it and it is fairly easy to use. For me personally, I need a platform that is ready to use. We have access to Angel on our campus, but I need something that I can administer myself.
  • Consider this quote by Tinto that relates to the concept of student retention: Successful students are integrated into the various social systems of an institution, as well as the local and global communities   One interesting aspect about Facebook is that it was created by University students, in many ways to serve this purpose. If students are socially connected, they will be more likely to engage with each other intellectually. Why not create a forum for students to use Facebook in a way that is more meaningful, so that we can explore how it can be used together?    
  • Depending on what you want to accomplish, it is not necessarily the best tool. Facebook contains a lot of distractions. Using it to teach because we can’t get students to engage may not be a quick fix. As the We Are Media website suggests, if your reason for using it is because everybody else is, you need to consider your objectives more carefully. The focus of facebook is social networking, so we should consider why we are using it and it is important to ask if students really want teachers to invade this space. I have read some reports of students being hesitant to befriend their instructors, and they may simply not really want to meet us in this space. The privacy concerns are also very important. There may be personal issues that we are not considering (relationships, stalking, bullying, etc.). We could be putting students in a vulnerable position, so it is important to educate ourselves about the privacy settings and to know how to set up a safe space for interaction.
  • Dana Boyd has an interesting blog examining both the pros and cons, and she strongly feels that students need to have a space where they can meet. Facebook allows them to interact socially becausethey no longer have opportunities to do that, and we shouldn’t invade this sacred space.
  • According to the We Are Media website, some Social Networking best practices include the following:   Confirm that your community will get something out of this tool and be engaged. I can see a really benefit to using it with a group of learners who may not be socially connected (ex: new students, international students)   Create a space specifically designed for your students. There are a number of ways to use Facebook by creating a page, or by creating limited profiles, or by creating a second profile, so that you can interact in a public sphere without having to become private friends.   Lastly, don’t impose social networking on your audience. Some people do not want to be online. They need to have the right to opt out.      
  • This PDF has some excellent suggestions from a blogger named Michael Staton on how it could it be used as teaching tool. Staton has some good suggestions for creating a space that considers privacy by creating limited profiles with controlled settings, so that it can be used without forcing people to share everything. Staton’s main reason for using Facebook is to build classroom bonds, in order to promote interaction. He has his students create blogs, videos, and podcasts, and they then use facebook to comment and share their reflections on each other’s work.
  • To conclude,   Facebook would be a useful resource for building classroom community and for exchanging certain types of information with students.   Some of the advantages are that it is easy to use, and a lot of people are already using it.   If you do plan to use it, make sure to familiarize yourself with the privacy settings. Creating a Facebook page would be an excellent way to promote your organization or to network with parents, students, or coworkers. Creating limited profiles that block certain types of personal information is another way to interact with young learners without requiring them to share all of there intimate personal details.


  • 1. Pedagogical Affordances and Critical Considerations Tim Podolsky Emerging Technologies Course February 2010
  • 2. Key Question
    • Should educators consider integrating Facebook into their classrooms? Why or why not?
  • 3. Pros
    • Increase engagement
    • Build bonds between classmates
    • User friendly
    • Open Access
  • 4.
    • “ Successful students are integrated into the various social systems of an institution, as well as the local and global communities” (Tinto 1997).
  • 5. Cons
    • Pedagogical limitations
    • Primarily social objectives
    • Privacy concerns
  • 6.
    • “ I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why social network sites (or networking ones) should be used in the classroom. Those tools are primarily about socializing” (boyd, 2008, para. 10).
  • 7. Best Practices
    • Confirm that your community will engage in social networking
    • Create a space for your group with secondary profiles
    • Don’t force people into the social network
  • 8.
    • http://www.edumorphology.com/2008/02/best-practices-for-educators-using-facebook/
  • 9. References
    • boyd, d. (2008, January 15). The Economist Debate on Social Networking. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2008/01/15/the_economist_d.html
    • Davies, T. (2008, February 18). Facebook groups vs. facebook pages. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.timdavies.org.uk/2008/02/18/facebook-groups-vs-facebook-pages/
    • Siemens, G. & Tittenberger, P. (2009) Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning. Retrieved from: http://www.filedump.benakoh.com/Handbook%20of%20Emerging%20Technologies%20for%20Learning.pdf
  • 10.
    • Staton, M. (2008, February 7). Best Practices for Educators Using Facebook. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://www.edumorphology.com/2008/02/best-practices-for-educators-using-facebook/
    • Tinto, V. (1997). Classrooms as communities: Exploring the educational character of student persistence. Journal of Higher Education, 68 (6), 600-623.
    • We Are Media. (2010). Tactical Track Module 5. Retrieved from http://www.wearemedia.org/Tactical+Track+Module+5