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Many teachers believe that students using laptops during class are not always taking notes or doing research related to their class discussion. If students are wondering then chances are they are using Facebook. Statistics show that students spend most of their time on Facebook. Most of the teachers believe that Facebook is a disturbance in the classroom, but Facebook has the potential to be a learning tool when it`s used strategically and creatively. I assert that Facebook can be a reliable and a popular medium through which both educators and students can interact appropriately. I will review findings by some researchers to understand the relationship between Facebook and education, and will show how it could be a reliable and popular mean to be used as a learning tool by focusing on three main points: (1) Facebook promotes knowledge and maintains effective and efficient student interaction with educators. (2) Facebook open doors to new opportunities for ubiquitous learning. (3) Facebook as a medium to develop communication skills and encourage participation and social commitment.
Develop communication skills and encourage participation and social commitment:
Communication through Facebook is different from traditional face-to-face communication. First, friendships through Facebook are explicit, where traditional friendships usually tend to be implicit. Secondly, conversations through Facebook are persistent. They are permanently stored and easily retrieved at any point in time. Finally, Facebook conversations share with all friends who can access someone's profile (Siegle 15).
Facebook is used as a primary communication activity through which young adults post, comment, and share information with each other. Facebook can provide a window into anyone's life. Given that fact, it is the responsibility of the parents to monitor and provide guidelines to their children once they start using Facebook. The use of Facebook by students entails education-related interactions, while some use it to obtain information on a missed class, others may use Facebook to engage in humorous comments about their own and their teachers' actions.
No one can deny the fact that Facebook broke down the barriers between students and educators because the informal learning that occurs in the context of sharing media offers important opportunities for increased student involvement in formal learning settings (Fewkes and McCabe 2012). Fewkes and McCabe have argued that a learning community would perform its best if the characteristics of connectedness and trust have been established amongst the learners (Fewkes and McCabe 2012). For this reason, education remains one of the areas most heavily impacted by technology.
Promotes knowledge and maintaining effective and efficient student interaction with educators:
Various studies have been conducted on teachers, university professors, and young adults to understand and assess the usage of social networks in the light of education and its effect on student's academic achievements as well as fulfilling the desire of promoting knowledge and maintaining effective and efficient student interaction with educators.
Aaron M. Fewkes and Mike McCabe conducted a survey on a sample of students at Waterloo Regional District School Board after the latter had made a decision to "embrace" the growing popularity of Facebook to verify if their vision of using Facebook in schools aligns with the actual behavior of the students. The results show that 48% of students do log on to Facebook at least once during class time, moreover, the research exposed a possible disconnect between school board and students due to improper implementation of this policy.
Educators who relied on Facebook to follow professional organizations were more knowledgeable than those who did not (Pilgrim and Bledsoe 38-39). We live in an age in which we are fully dependent on instant updates and information, the rationale behind using Facebook as a tool for professional learning adopts the idea that the internet is this generation's defining technology for literacy (Pilgrim and Bledsoe 39). Facebook is indeed an important source of information for educators who seek to continue their learning.
According to a study conducted on university instructors in Turkey, all instructors who participated in the survey somehow use Facebook in their courses; even the instructor with the lowest frequency had used Facebook to make announcements about the course by creating a group. The study concludes that instructors have adopted Facebook and they are using it intensively, with a greater tendency toward its use for educational purposes. According to my cited sources, the studies recognized Facebook as a reliable source for academicians because it is flexible and user friendly, in addition, the sources emphasized on the role of Facebook as a medium between students and instructors and argued that Facebook can neither be solely dependable for conducting courses nor can it be ignored.
Open doors to new opportunities for ubiquitous learning:
Educators respond the use of technology in their classrooms in five ways: (1) Ban it: This has been deemed ineffective due to the fact that technology is becoming a part of our life that we constantly use. Typical workarounds are hiding devices behind books and texting from pockets. (2) Do business as usual: I disagree with this behavior of educators as it is the educator's responsibility to engage the students in their classrooms (3) limit the use of Technology: a clear guideline indicating what is to be tolerated and what would be unacceptable. (4) Enhance traditional practice: Technology is dependent on users. (5) Use the technology to restructure the educational process: encourage students to use technology for inquiry, problem solving and/or instruction. (Siegle )
If I was an instructor, my choice would be the fifth option, as it is the most effective and efficient according to the studies conducted by Pilgrim, Beldsoe, and Siegle, who all have concluded in their studies the importance of learning how to incorporate Facebook into the education process. The use of technology allows students to use social media websites like Facebook to engage in formal or informal discussions with their instructor as well as their fellow students. There are many ways educators and students can connect using Facebook. For instance, teachers can post comments for the students, students can post their final work for their peers to review and provide feedback, and also students can use the wall feature to ask questions and respond to each other. In addition, teachers set up a central page where all classroom mates can join to participate at any time of their choice to exchange knowledge and understanding of the subject being studied.
Using social media should be, however, accompanied by some important precautions which educators should adhere to when using Facebook as a tool for educating students: (1) Teachers should consider setting up a separate Facebook account. (2) Educators should obtain signed parental consent prior to interacting with young students on Facebook. (3) Teachers should refrain from installing any applications on their page that would negatively affect their professional image. (4) Educators should remind students that they need to transfer the respectful tone teachers expect in class to their online interactions with them and ensure that students are aware that a teacher's ethical responsibility will continue online.
After I have explored the usage of Facebook by educators as well as students and identified the benefits of such usage by each party, I can say that Facebook is a reliable and a popular medium through which both educators and students can interact appropriately. In order for this medium of communication to work in its most effective and efficient way, students need to be trustful and self-regulated, that is, to refrain from the over- use of Facebook.
In conclusion, Educators and students use Facebook; the education process should be focused on the interaction of each party with the other and not the technology itself. Facebook opens new doors to students and allows their knowledge to grow. Facebook also allows them to learn about themselves from their peers. It is my belief that social networks like Facebook will continue to evolve and optimize the education channels in the context of human communication. Educators should consider Facebook as a mean of enhanced communication that provides traceability to what has been discussed and a source of feedback and/or evaluation on whether the discussion has fulfilled what it is mandated for or not.