The Use of Facebook in Education

It is true that social medias are becoming increasingly accessible nowadays. The number of youngsters owning mobile phones is tremendous. Moreover, children tend to process mobile devices (tablets, iPods, etc.) at a younger age. It is also true that many schools try to give, to a certain extent, their students access to technology. Some teachers have decided to create Facebook “secret” groups with their students; the goal of this being to share school-related information. While some believe that Facebook can be used as a great educational tool, it is others’ belief that using Facebook with students can have a negative impact on them.

Teachers who are in favour of using Facebook with their students bring up the excuse that the majority of their students are already owners Facebook accounts (see here). Something neglected by those teachers is that some students might not want to use Facebook at all, even though the majority of their classmates may have Facebook accounts themselves. One of the major disadvantages that has been brought up by Michael Wong from the University of British Columbia is that a “[teacher] cannot require a student to use Facebook, as not all of them will want to share their personal information with their classmates and instructor.” (Learn more)

“The problem with Facebook is that it was set up for socializing”, reported Karen Matthews in The Huffington Post (see here). People tend to blame youngsters to interact not enough face-to-face and too much on social networks. In my opinion, using Facebook with students would set a bad example in this way. It would encourage them to spend their time on Facebook instead of spending it with their family and friends, with whom they can interact verbally and develop new communication skills. (Here is an article that also supports this idea.)

Although Facebook is a great tool for sharing information with others, it can become very disruptive when it comes to be used in a classroom environment. Hereafter is a little situation of my own making. Suppose you are at the school’s computer lab and you have asked your students to do a Facebook search on a given subject. Obviously the students have to log in to their Facebook profile. This is when you lose control. As soon as they will all be on Facebook, some of them will be doing the assignment; some others will be posting personal stuff; others will be chatting; etc. Consequently, it will be hard for you, as the teacher, to keep track of what everyone is doing because they will all be on Facebook anyway. Not being able to monitor what each and every one of them is doing can lead to the loss of precious class or computer lab time. It can be very tempting for a student to take care of his/her personal stuff when being on Facebook for other (school) purposes. As written in this article, “You love to spend most of your time checking your Facebook updates”.

This article was not meant to prove that social networks should not be used at all; it was meant to inform future teachers that social networks, such as Facebook, are not necessarily the best way to use technology within a classroom environment. A teacher, I believe, should think twice before using such a tool with his/her students.

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