Thanks to The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland, I am pleased to embark on my most difficult training ever: Facebook for the Classroom. Usually, in order to design trainings, I stay off Facebook! I also ask participants to stay off email and Facebook to stay on task. Instead, I had to plow through pillars of potential procrastination to find the best resources for YOU to use Facebook for teaching and learning!
I invite you to walk with me through the following possibilities for Facebook in the classroom:
- Privacy and Security on Facebook
- Communicating via Facebook Page
- Moderating a Facebook Group
- Facebook Games
Privacy and Security on Facebook
In order to use Facebook, someone 13+ years old signs up for an individual account. Review this important information all Facebook users should know:
Connecting with colleagues and students online has its risks. Just like email, texting, and other digital communication, anything that you send can be documented and shared…even used as evidence in a legal dispute! Many employers routinely search popular social media sites for background information on potential employees.
As it turns out, even the Zuckerbergs can accidentally share private posts across the web:
For all these reasons and more, I separate my private and public Facebook accounts. On one account, my default privacy settings are strict, and I only accept friend requests from people I know in person. On my professional account, all my posts are public, and I accept friend requests or messages from anyone. For both accounts, I actively monitor my content and comments, post photos of events after they happen, and don’t post contact details like home address or vacation schedule.
Facebook for Educators provides a guide with more details and links about privacy and security.
Read pages 1-5. Did you find any useful tips here that you will implement? Practice posting on Facebook and adjusting your privacy settings.
Communicating via Facebook Page
Organizations or individual educators can reach out to students, parents, volunteers, or community members using a Facebook page. You can’t control who follows you, but it can be a great way to extend learning by posting updates about registration or closings, links to valuable resources, and reminders about deadlines and assignments. Best of all, you do not have to use your individual account as an administrator to communicate.
Check out my Facebook Page for an example of an educator’s online presence.
Moderating a Facebook Group
If you are comfortable connecting with students or colleagues in a moderated setting, try joining or creating a Facebook group.
Training Consultant Christine Lee shared this excellent article on “The Why and How of Using Facebook: No Need to be Friends At All!” which contains this useful chart about the differences between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group:
I see the main responsibility of managing a Page lies in curation: your main responsibility is creating or finding good content to share. Groups require facilitation skills: they invite more interaction and thus require more moderation. Choose what best suits your skill set, organizational policies, and most importantly, your educational goals.
Even if you don’t create your own Page or Group, you might be able to find and recommend appropriate ones for your students to follow, like Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, Reading Rainbow, and Free Rice.
I have to confess, I avoid Facebook Games like the plague, mainly for productivity’s sake. About once every day I receive an invitation to play Candy Crush and my answer until I retire will be “NO!” At the same time, finding games that provide additional practice and encourage mastery can be excellent classroom tools.
If you do nothing else with Facebook or social media, you can find and provide a list of free apps that your students can use outside of the classroom to support your learning objectives. Puzzles, strategy, and word games can all increase exposure and mastery on key literacy, numeracy, and technology skills.
Spend some time exploring the Facebook App Center: on the upper left-hand side of the page, click “Search for Apps” and type a keyword from your lesson.
Here are a few games or apps I might suggest to students:
- Oregon Trail: American history
- Khan Academy: math
- Angry Birds: physics
- 2020: My Country: imaginative civics
- 10 Fast Fingers: typing speed
- Words with Friends: vocabulary
Do you use Facebook in the classroom? What tips and suggestions do you have for using this social network for teaching and learning?