Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 Tips for Using Facebook in the Classroom

Facebook, the growing social network that receives negative publicity, but offers a great network for teachers to communicate with students and parents.  A while ago I created a Facebook 4 Education Wiki in the hopes of creating a place for teachers to share the positive uses for the Social Network in education because of all the negative press it was receiving.  With a growing group of readers, I thought it would be good to share it again with this post.

1.) First and most obvious use is to create a classroom based page for your students to follow.  Keep the page simple to a place to share news, homework assignments, reminders, etc.  I would limit students to just having the ability to comment and not post their own stuff to the wall, because that will also help reduce spam.  Our kids and parents are on Facebook, so it would be a great idea to go where they are.  This would also be a great way to post events and then students can RSVP their attendance or not as well.

2.) A lot of businesses/programs are on Facebook.  I recommend searching for some and suggesting students add them to their own feed.  For example, The Library of Congress, NASA, a Literature Page, or Khan Academy.  I suggest just doing a search for what you are teaching and see what pages are available. 

3.) Use the Facebook discussion board as a place to discuss books, assignments, movies, articles, etc.  Create a communication place to have a discussion and then share the discussion in class the next day.  You will know if kids are doing their homework because it will time stamp when they reply.

4.) Not really in Facebook, but someone has done a great job of creating a PowerPoint Facebook Page Template.  This would be a great way to create a presentation over historical figures, authors, etc. 

5.) Have students create a Facebook Page for a historical figure, book, movie, time period, event, etc.  Students in the class can then follow that page.  It can then be an ongoing project that students can update with links, videos, pictures, etc. 

6.) Facebook is filled with Apps that students can use related to education.  25 Apps for the Facebook Classroom is a good starting point to share with your students.  I know there are several issues with privacy, so do make students aware of those. 

7.) Create a Poll using the Poll App.  This would be a good way to gather information about the thoughts of your students as well as take polls on current events and popular culture.

8.) Use the new Facebook Groups feature, you can create groups of your students that they can follow and then that can also allow more teacher control.  Here is an article about using Facebook Groups with students.  Although the article is for college students, it does provide information relevant to the K-12 classroom.

9.) Use your classroom Facebook page as a way to teach Digital Safety and Digital Citizenship.  Share resources and information related to privacy and understanding a digital footprint.  Students have little information about that, and using Facebook responsibly can teach kids how to properly use the Internet and social media.

10.) Over the years, Facebook will become a great resource in itself to have former students share experiences from your classroom, in college, or even in their new careers.  You will create your own list of Guest Speakers.

Facebook is a great tool to use in education and I admit there are several learning curves that teachers and students will have to adjust too when it comes to "friending" each other.  I suggest you start calling yourself a mentor on Facebook as well.  Good Luck!
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