One could argue that Facebook is the original social network for education when we look at how the company had started out originally. Nowadays, however, this role has clearly been taken by Twitter and vertical networks like Edmodo and others. Still, Facebook started as a social network for Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard fellows, and this means that up to today there is some education DNA left.
On the other hand, Facebook has built up a quite bad reputation when it comes to security and privacy. So how can teachers make use of the world’s largest social network and all of its tools and features in school without jeopardizing the students safety?
There have been projects like Inigral, an application for colleges and universities, to (re)turn Facebook into a more learning friendly environment but what about teachers and students who want to use the “plain” version of Facebook without extra apps?
And that’s where Ian Fordham and Ty Goddard, co-founders of the UK-based Education Foundation, come in. Together with Wellington College and the London Nautical School they did some deep research, testing and workshops at the Facebook HQ all of which have led to a free Facebook Guide for Educators.
The guide wants to show educators in schools, colleges and universities how to
- support subject teaching across the curriculum
- support out of school hours learning
- encourage informal social learning
- enable easy communication between students, teachers and parents
- support the development of digital citizenship skills
Besides the obvious features that all of us use on Facebook, there are a lot of “hidden” gems that are often overlooked as they seem to target users coming from the corporate space, not education.
The guide explains how teachers can use Facebook in a number of ways, including how to run projects based around Timeline, set up Groups to share resources, create Events for exams and deadlines, and enable language students to speak to peers overseas. The guide also addresses ways to overcome the challenges of using Facebook in school environments, including confronting some educators’ cautiousness about social media’s potential as a learning tool.
If you want to have a deeper, practical look into how to make the most out of Facebook timeline with your own class, I recommend reading my article from September 2012 about an Amsterdam-based grammar school that set up various interesting Facebook timeline projects for the history classroom.
Though the Facebook Guide for Educators was developed based on experiences in the UK, it is of course useable for teachers across the globe. That is one great thing about social media, it is global and hence has a big potential to connect learners and teachers through the different platforms, Facebook is an example for that.
You can download the free Facebook Guide for Educators here and you should also take a look at all the other activities of The Education Foundation.
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