Social media as a teaching methodology for Higher Ed and K12 has arrived, whether we are ready or not. My inbox has been teeming with headlines, ‘Facebook launches Groups for Schools‘, ‘101:Twitter: Best Practices for using Twitter in the Classroom‘, or how about this one, ‘Los Angeles [School] District hires first Social Media Director’. Then there’s the [timely] Infographic A Tale of Two Worlds: Old School, New School, contrasting ‘old’ with ‘new’ teaching tools (though ironically the majority of the ‘old’ tools can be found in most classrooms today), yet it [encouragingly] reports that 70% of educators believe social media can be a useful tool in education.
Facebook Headline Most Significant…
However, what is most momentous and significant is the Facebook announcement. Facebook Groups for Schools has the potential to advance online learning, bring it to heights not seen before. Facebook can add what has been missing, the social presence dimension that is necessary to a successful learning experience, according to the Community of Inquiry model, which I described in a previous post on social presence. Actually, I am brimming with constrained enthusiasm about this development – though time will tell. In this post I’ll give an overview of Facebook school groups, and in future posts I’ll write about the pedagogical and instructional design implications.
What is Facebook Groups for Schools?
In a nutshell Facebook Groups for Schools connects faculty and students within a college or university (this is reminiscent of Facebook’s roots – as this is how it all started) Groups within can be created for just about anything, by anyone within the school. Classes, clubs, graduating classes, fraternities, sororities, sports teams, the list is endless. Here’s what Facebook says:
- Your Student Life, All in One Place
- Join groups, see photos and plan events around campus
- Add classmates to groups without having to be friends first
- Exclusive to members of [your university] community
I joined the George Washington University group today by signing in with my student email account. Only those with .edu email addresses will be able to sign-in to the respective school (there may be some exceptions). Once ‘in’ I can join a group, create a group, or see what’s going on.
What is really neat, is that when I’m logged into my personal Facebook page, I can access my school (displayed left hand menu section) and easily click on over to GWU and see what’s going on in a group I’m part of or see what’s new at GWU, without signing into a new platform. Seamless. Easy. Do you where I’m going with this….
Learning just got Social
Students are a captive audience on Facebook, given that 85 million users log on to FB each day, now his or her learning is accessible – no need to sign-in to another Learning Management platform for a discussion with your classmates about the topic of the week, or to collaborate with classmates for a group project, to post a question, or to …socialize.
Below is a snapshot of just four of the 100 or so groups already formed at GWU. Notice the image displays class groups, and the Biology class already has 85 members, with a tag line ‘post questions and discussions about classes…’.
What it means : As I mentioned up front, this is very new, but has tremendous potential for online learning and higher education overall. This is an opportunity for savvy educators to embrace social networking. I encourage you to log onto your school, or to make sure your school is signed up, create a group and encourage your students to join — and the journey beings. Check back for future posts, and please share your ideas and experiences with Facebook Groups for Schools. We’d love to hear from you.