February 2, 2012

Results-only learning with Facebook

By Jan Pierce, Guest Blogger

While Facebook was once discouraged and even banned from many classrooms and schools, educators are beginning to embrace the social networking tool as a way to enhance students’ learning experience.So how can teachers use Facebook in the classroom as a tool for results-only learning? Here are some ideas.

1. Classroom Groups – This is one of the most popular ways that teachers are using Facebook. Teachers can give students Facebook-related assignments such as posting what they learned or questions they might have on the group “wall.” As students respond to one another, this encourages collaborative learning through discussion. The teacher can also post relevant links with additional material for the students to view and respond to.
Courtesy: uisjournal.com
The key to using a classroom group on Facebook is to make it private. Teachers should create separate profiles with strict privacy settings that they only use for school. Students can also create separate accounts or they can simply adjust their privacy settings to limit what content the teacher sees. The classroom group should also be private so that only the teacher, students, school administrators, and parents can view it.

2. Messages – Facebook is a great way to keep everyone informed. Teachers and students can send messages to everyone in the classroom group about unexpected absences, upcoming events, or project updates.

Teachers can also send a private message to an individual student or parent – these days, many people will be more likely to respond to Facebook than to an email. Students may also be more honest and open in a Facebook message than they would be in a private meeting with the teacher.

3. Sharing Content – Teachers can post a link to an interesting webpage, article, or video that they want their students to view. They could also add photos from a recent class trip or project. They can even post notes about daily or weekly classroom activities for students who miss class or parents who want to stay informed. Even students can get involved and post related links or photos to enhance the learning experience.

4. Keep Everyone Updated – If a parent has a Facebook account, it’s easy for them to stay updated on classroom happenings. All they have to do is check the class group page. If they have a specific concern, they can also send a private message to the teacher.

5. Class Project – Facebook itself can turn into a class project. Have students make Facebook profiles for fictional characters or historical figures and have them interact with each other the way the characters would. The students will get into the role-playing aspect and will embrace this chance to check Facebook as part of their learning experience, rather than use it as a distraction when they get home from school.

Jan Pierce is a 4th grade teacher who has over 20 years of experience in the classroom. Her interests include educational technology and online learning. She also owns the site ElementaryEducation Degree, for students interested in earning a degree in elementary education.