with your favorite social networking sites.
When heavy snow hit the Northeast this past winter and brought the region to a crawl, professors took to Facebook and held class online. The world's most popular social network allowed for students to virtually chat, post discussion topics and share resources; perhaps the next best thing to being in class together. By choosing Facebook, professors used a familiar platform for students to continue scheduled courses from the comfort of their residence halls without having to brave the harsh winter weather.
We learned in the award-winning film The Social Network that Facebook was originally created for the college demographic. If that's the case, consider these five ways to use Facebook in college classrooms, instead of looking for reasons to keep Facebook out of higher education.
Five Ways to Use Facebook in College Classrooms
1. Virtual ChatFacebook allows for users to chat with each other if they are connected as friends. Allowing student to chat on Facebook around a specified topic will generate offline discussions that professors can use for future lessons or assignments.
2. Ongoing Discussion TopicsProfessors can use the Facebook Discussions feature to move popular or intense talks from the class to a digital forum setting. Educators may also want to use Facebook to start a new discussion on weekly topics for participation credit. This gives shy students a chance to speak up without raising hands in class.
3. GroupsWith Facebook, higher education can create special groups based on a course, department, student organization, specific study topic, sports team or alumni network. Facebook Groups gives those with similar interests a way to connect with each other in a special area.
4. CommunicationProfessors can post updates, reminders or news bulletins on Facebook as a quick way to reach students. It's a no-brainer considering studies show students spend close to 100 minutes a day accessing Facebook.
5. Class Material Collective Uploading PowerPoint slides, videos, course handouts, PDFs and more to a Facebook Page is a great way to keep course information in one place. Students can access materials from any computer or mobile device, at any point in time, throughout a semester or after a course has finished.
As a new adjunct in higher education, I find students appreciate it when professors find creative ways to use new media in the classroom. Facebook is a communication platform college students are comfortable using in their daily life, and it can be a great classroom tool if used correctly.
What do you think? Is there a place for using Facebook in the classroom, or is it simply another distraction?
Photo: west.m, Creative Commons 2.0