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This is a dangerous issue, I think. I must admit, I have the policy of never letting any of my students become my "friends" on facebook, just because I think that my personal life should not be mingled with my professional life, and the key to success as a teacher is creating a distance that enables you to teach your students. I don't want my kids able to see pictures of me relaxing in my "normal" life outside my role of being a teacher and with my family.
However, I do know some teachers who have usefully created groups that they have used to great effect. My problem with this is that there are other sites and ways that this can be done. Because I use facebook so much in my "normal" life, I would be reluctant to bring it in to my professional life.
At my school the coaches use Facebook to send announcements about practice times, changes in game schedules, and so on. It's fast, and the information seems to get to students better than more traditional messaging means.
I personally use Facebook a lot for personal networking, but I will not "friend" students, because the kids don't know how to edit themselves. Inevitably they post things that I just did not need or want to know. I also am very circumspect in what I post about myself.
I do let students know that I have a Facebook account. Although it is set up on high privacy so that only approved (adult) friends can see my information, status updates, and photos, anyone can send me a private message through it. Students do take advantage of this feature to make contact with me when they are absent or need to get in touch quickly. It's easy, since there's no email address to remember, and they can reach me anywhere, since I have the private messages set to go to my cell phone. So far I have not had any issues with doing this.
I think it's folly for educators to hide from social networking. It's very powerful technology that is not going to go away. Better to teach kids to use it productively now than send them out uneducated on the matter.
I would say a very large Con of Facebook in regards to education is the sheer number of hoaxes, fictional and overtly slanted news stories, and blatant lies floating around the Internet. People see something, do no research, and pass it on as fact; before you know it, an expanding circle of people believe it; this misinformation could affect an important decision or be used in a paper or test. To combat these, I generally direct people to Snopes.com, a site devoted to investigating rumors. They have a very good track record.
Many teachers at my school have created Facebook’s Group pages instead of a traditional website for their students. These teachers know that students will be more likely to check the Facebook page for updates, handouts, and events. Other teachers use the Wall feature to have students communicate and discuss their objectives with one another. Often times students learn just as much from one another as they do from the teacher, so the forum allows them to ask each other questions, give each other support, and translate what the teacher has said into a student friendly language.
I just created an assignment where I gave students the option of creating a FaceBook page for a character from a text they have written. Many of the students took the opportunity to use this option. Overall, the students did very well.
Outside of that, and this may seem hypocritical, I think that social networking sites are horrible. They breed hatred and provide an avenue where students think what is being said and done is okay because they are not doing it in person.
As for school, I do not think that using FaceBook is a good idea for keeping contact (in the high school and lower levels). You are asking for trouble. Someone is going to get on and post something inappropriate. It will simply take time.
A recent college course in which I was enrolled used Facebook extensively for displaying the artwork completed by the students. The teacher also used FB to post messages and comments on the work, and the students also posted their opinions about one another's work. One of the clubs at the school uses FB in much the same way, and teachers post announcements on the FB club site in addition to the school site.
I don't really see any cons to using Facebook in education if the use is along the lines of what Post #2 is talking about. However, real Facebook does not seem to me to have any sort of educational purpose whatsoever. I can't imagine using it for anything except possibly to conduct a poll of one's friends on some political issue.
I have heard of students creating mock Facebook pages for characters. It is not actually published on Facebook, but it incorporates their love of the page and helps them analyze a character. Who would the character's friends be? What interests would the character put? What pages would he like? And so on.
Facebook network is a very powerful tool through which most of the world communicate. At our college they fear everything in terms of technology and student privacy. They don't even allow responding to a student's email if it's an address not associated with the school
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