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4 Reasons why Facebook is an Educational Tool for Schools

By Wayan Vota on December 3, 2010

facebook classroom

Recently I helped review the use of information and communication technologies in the Jordanian public school system and I was intrigued to find that Facebook was blocked in both public and private elementary and secondary schools.

In fact, the overall attitude of teachers and administrators seemed to be that Facebook was a waste of time – that it had no redeeming educational characteristics at all.

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Yet I don’t see Facebook in that negative light. I find it a compelling ICT4Edu platform to to encourage language development, interpersonal communication, group collaboration, and of course, digital literacy skills improvement.

1. Language Development

Facebook requires students to express themselves and communicate in a written format. While it might not be proper writing, its at least writing something. And before we stifle learners with spelling and grammar rules (of which, I’m still ignorant of many) we should excite them with the possibilities that proper written communication can bestow.

2. Interpersonal Communication

What is Facebook but a forum for interpersonal communication – a key skill for personal development and future employment. We should encourage interpersonal skills in every format possible, from written digital formats like Facebook, to in-person skills in other environments.

3. Group Collaboration

By engaging with “friends”, Facebook users are honing the ways in which they can collaborate with others in groups. Schools should harness this to develop group collaboration skills and even project based learning activities that span subjects and grade levels.

4. ICT Skills

With the draw of Facebook to encourage them, students learn ICT skills without the need for boring step-by-step instruction. They gain skills through peer learning as well, feeding back into interpersonal communication and group collaboration. Or put it another way, with Facebook there is no need for introduction to computers course – the students will teach themselves.

Facebook can be an Educational Tool

In summary, schools who restrict or block Facebook are missing out on a great opportunity to use social networking to inspire children to learn and share using technology in transparent manner. Educators should embrace ICT tools like Facebook as a medium to excite and educate students. A rare feat in the modern educational experience.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the digital lead on the Deloitte for Development team. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of Deloitte, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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8 Comments to “4 Reasons why Facebook is an Educational Tool for Schools”

  1. Tinomuda says:

    I do agree that Facebook can be used as a tool for education, but one also has to think of how it will be accepted as a tool of education by both the educators and the students. The educators may not see the usefulness as a tool for education for several reasons:

    1. there is no void that they feel will be filled by making use of Facebook as an educational tool. They may be content with the status quot which may have worked well for them in the past and continues to do so. If we were to be asked to justify its usage, we should be prepared for questions like “Where has it been proven to have been of significant benefit?”, “Are Facebook-using students better performers than non-Facebook-using students?”
    2. they may fear that the students will not respond to it as an educational tool, opting to use it as another(which we know is also likely to happen). If this happened, it would degrade the students’ performance.

    I think there are many issues that can be used to justify banning it, and it would be good to also get their perspective of things. We may gain more understanding into why some brilliant e-learning initiatives have been shelved.

  2. Teresa says:

    How do we help teachers to manage the classroom when Facebook is involved? Many find it an intrusion or a distraction. We deployed our 1:1 environment (grades 5-12) this past fall and after much debate, decided to keep Facebook open. To be fair, managing a digital classroom environment requires a different approach in terms of classroom instruction/management. About two-three weeks into school, a few parents called in with concerns about their kids constantly on and poking around the site. We also had a couple of incidents with cyber-bullying pop up. As a result, administration decided that blocking it was in the district’s best interest.

    I do agree that Facebook has educational value, especially when we as educators have the opportunity to model ethical/digital conduct. In the past few weeks, we have launched a district page to improve/open communication lines with our Facebook parents, students, and community; positive response has followed the initiative. Due to liability concerns, the district has required that teachers de-friend students from their personal pages. So, teachers are creating professional pages as an extension of the classroom.

    This has been the “hot” topic so-to-speak here at my district the past few months (needless to say – the past few days); feel free to check out my last couple of blog posts as my perspective continues to change. I would appreciate suggestions on helping teachers to manage the more tech-savvy classroom!! I would appreciate any ideas you have to help me help my district.

  3. Peter kalanzi kajubi says:

    Are 90% of Nigerian Primary School Teachers Computer Illiterate?! This was a question posed and enquiry on whether Engineer Maduka’s numbers of ICT literacy level is correct. Refer to ICT Works, Dec 20, 2010 04:00 by Wayan Vota. Am no Nigerian and with no data known to me to substantiate known or unknown statistics. What however, is important in my opinion, is not only wether the numbers are correct alone, in fact at this moment there is a bigger problem that is apparent with our teachers. By the way, not a problem created by the teachers-i dare say but by a system that neglects the usefulness and purpose of teachers across Africa. It is the neglected teachers that are expected to give a good education, have the right skills, knowledge and pedagogical methods at there disposal- Is that fare?. Yet here is a group of unknown women who have discovered the problem and in there little ways are trying to fix it. So what i would cry for is good support from a formidable network like your in ICT Works to encourage such initiatives to enlighten the very cores of education to rid our selves of ICT illiteracy. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be responsible and honest with the information and statistic we announce to the public but it is only fare that we also see the good in what the women’s initiative is struggle to solve.

  4. Charles says:

    I Have a hard time to follow your comment there. Who are the women? Confused…

  5. A High School Teacher says:

    There is a very valid and real reason why Facebook is blocked in every school and school board I am aware of.

    As a media arts teacher who worked successfully in film and animation before entering education I do not shy away from new technologies and appreciate their worth as learning tools, as well as their importance and relevance for students today.

    This said, when students access Facebook within a classroom the temptation to use it outside the context of the learning task is simply too great. I have tried several times (I had it unblocked) and make no mistake about it, the results were consistent with those of other teachers I know who have tried, namely Facebook is simply too distracting to be used.

    No offence, I think you should really try spending time in a classroom before passing judgement.

  6. Anonymous says:

    M looking for literature review on the use of FB or open forum on FB to teach speaking

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi! I am also looking for startegies and activities to use in the classroom with social networks and social media to improve the use of english by teenage learners. Can you help with literature, essays, suggestions? I am developing a project related to that! I welcome every idea!!!!! Thank you!