Facing Facebook…?

by Stephanie Chasteen on March 1, 2010

I’m working on an abstract for the AAPT.  What do people think about this idea?

Facing Facebook:  Social media in and out of the classroom

Your students are already using tools like Facebook and Twitter.  In fact, they’re often using them when you’d rather they’d be doing something else (like paying attention in class). How can we turn the potential obstacles of Web 2.0 and social media into an opportunity for effective teaching and learning?  I’ll share some techniques instructors are using for communicating with their students and each other, including class blogs, real-time aggregated conversations in class, tweeted answers to student questions, dedicated YouTube channels, wiki-based class contracts, and more.  Through these tools, we may choose to leverage social media to promote conversation about things that we care about, using platforms that students find familiar and fun.


Mark March 1, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Sounds great. I’d attend! What’s AAPT? 🙂

It reminds me of research Jennifer Stone did a while back on kids’ use of websites in and out of classrooms, comparing literacy skills of sanctioned sites vs. what kids actually consumed that wasn’t sanctioned, making the argument that educators need to help kids navigate digital media instead of blocking or ignoring it.

sciencegeekgirl March 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Thanks for the feedback, and a nice framework (ie., help navigate, not block). AAPT = American Assoc. of Physics Teachers.

Derek Bruff March 7, 2010 at 5:14 am

Not only is it important to teach students how to navigate digital media, as Mark points out, but I think it’s reasonable to say that today’s students expect a certain level of participation in many aspects of their lives. Whether they’re voting for a contestant on American Idol or posting something on Facebook or “liking” a friend’s Facebook post or rating a movie on Netflix, they’re living in a participatory culture.

Adding some elements of that participatory culture to a learning experience–through blogs, wikis, clickers, Twitter, and so on–is likely, I think, to engage these students and help them have more ownership in the learning experience.

I blogged a few more thoughts about this idea back in January: http://derekbruff.com/teachingwithcrs/?p=432.

Christy March 11, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Interesting point about the participatory nature of technology in students’ lives today. I hadn’t thought of that.

This is very messy territory for high school teachers. For example, I assigned a project that students really enjoyed: making a facebook page for a famous physicist. The problem with that was that those who chose–although I told them not to–to make an actual page violated the rules of facebook. The use of facebook is also blocked at our school.

I also face the challenge that students have left older technology behind for new. I email grades home periodically, but many of my students don’t check their email anymore in a texting world.

Finally, the time I invest to use a new technology has to improve learning or save me time over the long run. Why should I use clickers when white boards work just as well, and won’t be stolen?

Don’t know if your presentation is aimed at HS or college, but these are the issues I would want to see addressed at the high school level.

sciencegeekgirl March 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Thank you, Christy, for your comment! I’m thinking mostly at the undergraduate level, but there are hS teachers at this particular conference. Considering the restrictions relevant at the HS level is something that I’ll have to be careful to do. I appreciate the feedback!

Chris March 22, 2010 at 10:23 am

I’m a high school physics teacher in a district that bans Facebook (and YouTube and anything else that kids like) and doesn’t see any utility in using such sites for educational purposes. So any activity utilizing Facebook would get me in trouble.

Nonetheless, purely in my role as an individual interested in science, I set up the “Mr. Becke’s Physics Classroom” site on Facebook. It’ll soon be leading to a project in which kids have to find some cool science-related video, picture or website and call attention to it, as I do in my Facebook group. (I had originally wanted to do the class project on Facebook, where sharing is easy, but will be utilizing Wikispaces (approved) instead).

I can’t wait to read your article.

sciencegeekgirl March 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comments. The needs of college and HS teachers are definitely different here — College teachers need to keep their students *off* facebook and other sites during lecture. HS teachers don’t even have the option of using facebook in the school. But it does sound like their needs *out* of the classroom are very similar, and perhaps that’s where I should focus the talk. AAPT does have both HS and college instructors.

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