Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Facebook Experience

My main reason for avoiding facebook is that I don’t have time to maintain yet another web page. I find it challenging to keep my blog updated... my last post was quite a while ago. I worry that too much personal information will be exposed on the Internet and wonder what future implications this may have. I never thought I would create a facebook account. However, due to increasing pressure from friends and family that are using it, I created a profile or “caved” as described by my niece. There are so many people that have crossed my path throughout my life and I have neglected to contact or have lost contact through the years and hope facebook may help in building some of those connections again.

During the last week I have communicated with an old friend from elementary school, several from high school, one from grad school, one from another city that I used to live in, a couple from a dance group I was part of and family members from all over the country. I have laughed and cried while reading and responding to messages. I know that I would not have communicated with all these people if I had not created a facebook account!

Another reason I wanted to create a facebook account is to assess any educational applications for this tool. Web based systems are being utilized in many classrooms to share course content, provide feedback and assessment and are considered by some as an invaluable tool for teaching and learning. An element I really like in facebook is the news feed that is provided to each user with updates on any changes or posts that have been made by friends. This makes it really easy to know what’s new and navigate through the pages quickly. A live news feed would increase the ease of use of a classroom web based system as well. When students log in, they want to see information that is customized to their needs and they want to quickly know what has changed since the last time they logged in. Students are accustomed to web content that is dynamic and constantly changing. After my facebook experience (of only one week!) I understand why students view our web based tools used in the classroom as outdated and become frustrated when they do not see things changing regularly.

I believe it is important for educators to be aware of the tools that are used by students and determine if there are educational applications. I recommend trying out a social networking tool, such as facebook, and see why students are spending so much time reading and writing messages, posting and tagging pictures and videos and communicating with others on a daily basis. I also recommend the following facebook Wiki -

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