Facebook for Schools
Sunday 18 March 2012
10 reasons why facebook should be allowed in schools
I am a vociferous opponent of one sided arguments, but recognise their value in helping people to see the issues. I am not unaware of the risks of embracing facebook in schools and certain that one bad experience could change my views. I am even naturally cautious about these things, but do find myself increasingly incredulous that there is such opposition to it. The following is just what the title says it is and not intended as a fullproof argument. The aim is to get people thinking.
More sophisticated communication tool
This is often overlooked. Facebook is - hands down - a considerable evolution of a communication tool. It offers everything that e-mail does on the side, whilst facilitating and encouraging a whole new level of collaboration and community. No doubt that communication in many industries could benefit hugely from such a tool. Why then will it take so many so long to work it out?
Groups not friends
The whole ability to interact with different groups of people without being 'friends' in a facebook sense has really opened up the options for schools to make use of this tool. Whilst it will always be true that all users must think very carefully about what they post, and that privacy and social networking are rarely synonymous, this is an important barrier.
The other day, I wanted to spontaneously share a link with my class. They all have computers with them so I copied the link and pasted it in to a word document which I then saved on a shared network drive with a memorable name. I shouted out the memorable document name to the class who, one by one, navigated to it to click on the link. This was the most efficient method for this spontaneous sharing. I rest my case.
It is real
We can pretend it is not, but it is. It is a phenomenon and it is happening. Making school a place where it does not happen is just helping detach school from reality.
In my experience, and it wont last forever, facebook is the communication tool of choice amongst students (and an increasing number of adults). When such a high premium is placed on effective communication why would not use the tool of choice, especially when it is more sophisticated than the alternatives? Stood perfectly still in a traffic jam on the way to school I realised I would be late. I posted instructions to the facebook group for the class concerned and when I got to work 20 minutes late students all knew what they were supposed to be doing and were. The e-mail might have been picked later that evening.
It is often argued that students having access to facebook in schools would just add another distraction for them and stop them focussing on the task. Well if that is the case then I think we should ban day dreaming as well. We should all ask ourselves what distracts us and why? When are we truly engaged in an activity organised by someone else? What is it about those moments that stops us following the numerous distractions on offer? If a student is not in to the activities in my lesson then there are already a million other things they could be doing as a distraction. There are hundreds of other apps on their computers, not even mentioning the internet, they could be doing homework for another subject, chatting to their neighbours, playing with their webcams or just plain day dreaming. Yes it is another possible distraction but what it adds to the existing choice is minimal. It is not a problem.
When did banning work?
OK, so there must be some answers to this question, but in the case of facebook, well, we can ban it from networks and computers and so they all get out their phones! Not all of course, but I am just trying to point out how difficult it is to stop a phenomenon like this.
Make it work for you not against you!
No explanation necessary
Get staff collaborating
Rightly or wrongly and even though they work ion the same building, staff do not get much time to talk to each other in school. A facebook group for teachers is a fabulous way for staff to share what they are doing, swap opinions and share interesting and relevant links with each other. It is really great.
Get students collaborating
Again, no explanation necessary
How can this work for teachers of Maths Studies?
Here are three ways to get in to this straight away.
Facebook groups for classes
I can recommend highly the use of these groups for effective communication between students and teachers. I have one group that all students doing maths studies in the school belong to All the maths teachers in the school also belong and students stay in the group even after they have left the school which adds a nice dimension as well.
Facebook groups for teachers
Here is a group for IM Maths studies teachers all over the world. IB Maths Studies Teachers - it is a fantastic opportunity to be able to collaborate and share with teachers with the same issues.
Worldwide IB Maths Studies classroom
This group for students of maths studies students all over the world is just that. I am hoping that we could get students and classes all over the world collaborating in this way.