Facebook isn't just a great way for you to find old friends or learn about what's happening this weekend, it is also an incredible learning tool. Teachers can utilize Facebook for class projects, for enhancing communication, and for engaging students in a manner that might not be entirely possible in traditional classroom settings. Read on to learn how you can be using Facebook in your classroom, no matter if you are a professor, student, working online, or showing up in person for class.
Note: Check out our updated version of this article for even more suggestions on Facebook in your class.
The following ideas are just a starting point for class projects that can be used with Facebook in the classroom.
- Follow news feeds. Have students follow news feeds relevant to the course material in order to keep current information flowing through the class.
- Share book reviews. Students can post their book reviews for the instructor to grade and other students to read. If it's a peer-reviewed project, then students can more easily access each other's papers online.
- Knighthood. Playing this game promotes strong reading skills. This teacher explains how he used it with his ESL class.
- Poll your class. Use polls as an interactive teaching tool in class or just to help facilitate getting to know one another with the Poll app for Facebook.
- Practice a foreign language. Students learning a foreign language can connect with native speakers through groups or fan opportunities.
- Create your own news source. A great way for journalism students to practice their craft, use the Facebook status update feed as a breaking news source for sports results, academic competition results, and other campus news.
- Follow news stories. Keep up with news through Facebook on groups like World News Now that provides video clips of world news.
- Keep up with politicians. Political science students can become fans of politicians in order to learn about their platforms and hear what they have to say first hand.
- Create apps for Facebook. A class at Stanford started doing this in 2007 and still has a Facebook group profiling their work. A class at Berkeley also did the same.
- Participate in a challenge. Look for challenges like the one held by Microsoft and Direct Marketing Educational Foundation that challenges undergrads and grad students to create usable products for Microsoft in return for experience and, in some cases, certification.
- Bring literature to life. Create a Facebook representation of a work of literature like this class did.
An excellent way to ensure students are more engaged in the learning experience, whether in a traditional classroom or at accredited online colleges, is by strengthening the communication between students and student-to-teacher. These are just a few ideas to do just that.
- Create groups. You can create groups for entire classes or for study groups with smaller subsets of students that allow for easy sharing of information and communication, without students even having to friend each other.
- Schedule events. From beginning of semester mixers to after-finals celebrations, easily schedule events for the entire class using Facebook.
- Send messages. From unexpected absences to rescheduling exams, it's easy to send messages through Facebook.
- Share multimedia. With the ability to post videos, photos, and more, you can share multimedia content easily with the entire class.
- Post class notes. Post notes after each class period for students to have access for review or in case they were absent.
- Provide direct communication with instructors. Instructors and students can contact each other through Facebook, providing an opportunity for better sharing of information and promoting better working relationships.
- Allows shy students a way to communicate. Shy students who may not want to approach their teacher after class or during office hours can use Facebook to communicate.
- Facilitate classmate connections. When students get to know each other more intimately, they become more involved in the learning experience. This is helpful in both large classes that wouldn't normally promote such intimacy and in smaller settings that regularly depend on that connection.
- Make announcements. Instructors can send out reminders about upcoming tests, upcoming due dates, or any classroom news.
- Brainstorm. Students can have the ability to add their thoughts to the class any time they occur allows for more opportunities for brainstorming off each other.
- Share interesting websites. Students and instructors alike can post interesting websites that add relevancy to the class.
- Post homework. Posting homework through Facebook not only provides easy access for students, it also puts in writing specifically what is expected and when it is due.
- Grassroots movements. Students at University of British Columbia learned that the weight room at their aquatic center was slated for closure, and through Facebook, won to keep it open.
Why use Facebook with your class? Here are some of the benefits you may see when you decide to use Facebook as a learning tool.
- Inviting atmosphere. Since Facebook isn't exclusively the instructor's any more than it is the students', this offers students an opportunity for active participation on a level playing field.
- Students are comfortable with Facebook. Most students are already users of Facebook, so implementing it into class provides a comfortable way for students to participate in class.
- Informal. The informality inherent in Facebook's connections lend to yet another reason students may be more willing to participate in class activities here.
- Promotes collaboration. Facebook's design promotes social interchange between participants, thereby increasing collaboration between students working on activities.
- Keeps schools current. Mark Federman asserts that universities must move from a skills-centered approach to learning to one of connectivity to stay relevant to students.
- Students engaged outside of class. When students are accessing the class content more often, that means they will be thinking about and engaging in the lessons more frequently.
- Ambient awareness. Facebook provides an excellent opportunity for students and instructors to participate in ambient awareness, a way of getting to know those you follow on social networks in more meaningful ways.
- Teach personal responsibility. Instructors can take this opportunity to teach students how to responsibly use Facebook and other social networking sites so it helps their future–not the opposite.
- Access to guest speakers. Instructors who have stayed in contact through Facebook with past students who have moved on to their careers have an excellent resource for guest speakers for the class.
Tips for Educators
Educators should check out these suggestions for ways to use Facebook effectively and professionally.
- Create a separate account just for your classes. Keep two accounts if you want to use Facebook personally as well. This keeps your Facebook relationship at school on a professional level.
- Manage privacy settings. If you don't want to manage two accounts, use these tips to manage privacy to keep your personal and professional lives separate.
- Friend students carefully. Make sure you are friending students in current and former classes for professional purposes. Keep as professional a distance on Facebook as you would in person.
- Ask students to put you on limited access to their pages. This keeps you from having to see their Spring Break photos, status updates that may indicate why they really missed that midterm, or any other information that may compromise your professional working relationship.
- Create lists. Create a list for each of your classes, then keep students in each class on that list. This is a great way to organize your students.
- Publish notes for recognition. If you want to recognize accomplishments of particular students or the effort of an entire class, be sure to write a note indicating what you are recognizing and tag all students involved.
- Include your class blog. If you have a class blog, import it to Facebook so it shows up there when you add a new blog post.
- Use as a course management system. Use in place of other course management systems such as Blackboard to access all your online information and connections with fewer restrictions.
- Stay active. Keep posting messages, use as many Facebook apps and resources as possible, and update status reports so your students know you are engaged and you stay an important part of the Facebook experience.
- Get over the term "friend". Many professors are disturbed by the idea of making friends with their students. Instead of adapting the Facebook term in the common way, try to think about the relationship as one of a mentor, or in an Aristotelian version of a utilitarian friend.
Facebook Resources for Students
Students can use these applications and groups to enhance their usage of Facebook in school.
- weRead. Students can manage the books on their reading lists, connect with others in discussions about the books, and more.
- Flashcards. Create flashcards on any subject to help reinforce what you need to know.
- Notely. Organize assignments, classes, notes, and more with Notely. You will need a Notely account to use this Facebook app.
- Study Groups. If you don't want to create your own group for a study group, use this app instead that allows for easy collaboration.
- Hey Math! Challenge. Students can watch flash movies explaining difficult math concepts with this app.
- CourseFeed. Find online classes or follow your current class when you add this app to your Facebook account.
- CampusBuddy. This app helps you connect with classmates on your campus.
- DoResearch4Me. Use this search engine to find online information instead of relying on Wikipedia.
- SkoolPool. When students use this app, they can research schools, find students, and more to make sure they are embarking on the best education.
- Notecentric. Take notes during class, then post them for other students with Notecentric.
- Class Notes. Snap a photo of what the teacher wrote on the board or a copy of your class notes and post them here so everyone can share their visual notes.
- Used Text Books. Students can buy and sell used text books through this group.
- Homework Help. This group is a place for students to find and offer help with homework–or just to get a better understanding of difficult concepts.
- CiteMe. Get properly formatted citations according to APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, or Turabian style with this app.
Facebook Applications for Teachers
These Facebook apps can make your job easier and more engaging for the students.
- Calendar. Use this calendar app from 30 Boxes to keep your classes on track with upcoming assignments, tests, due dates, and more.
- Courses. Manage your courses with this app that allows you to create an instructor page, manage assignments, and more.
- Mathematical Formulas. This is a great way for math teachers to share formulae and their solutions.
- Webinaria. Record your class lectures and post them for the class to review on Facebook.
- Book Tag. Tag books for a class reading list and even create quizzes with this useful app.
- Language Exchange. If you teach a foreign language, turn students on to this app that gives them a chance to practice what they learn in class.
- Files. Upload all the important files you want to share with students such as your class syllabus, supplemental reading material, or assignments when you use this app.
- Make a Quiz!. Easily make quizzes to test your students' knowledge and see how they score.
Facebook Applications for Both Students and Teachers
These apps are great for both students and teachers and include access to documents, research material, and presentations.
- Links. Easily post links to interesting things found on the Internet that may be relevant to class.
- SlideShare. Instructors and students can use this app to create awesome slide presentations as a part of class or to complete an assignment.
- To-Do List. Who couldn't use a reminder list of all there is to complete in a day? This app helps with that.
- JSTOR Search. You may need to access this through your library's proxy, but this is a great way to find full articles through JSTOR.
- WorldCat. Search for material available at libraries around the world to find help with your research.
- Zoho Online Office. If your class is using Zoho for documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, then this app is an invaluable way to access them all through Facebook.
- Google Docs. Just like Zoho, if you are using Google Docs, access them through Facebook with this app.
- Podclass. Teachers and students who use a classroom management system can access their courses, assignments, and more through Podclass.
- LibGuides. Access content from your library with this app.
Facebook Groups for Teachers
These groups show how other instructors are using Facebook in education or work to unite educators through Facebook. You can connect with educators across the nation, including teachers at accredited online colleges by state and teachers at traditional colleges or K-12 schools.
- Educators using Facebook. This group of educators is over 1,300 strong and shares information and support for using Facebook in education.
- Facebook for Educators. Join this group to learn how to best use Facebook with your students.
- Classroom Instruction in Facebook. Find out how this group uses Facebook as a supplement to teaching library class instruction.
- Education. Find plenty of educators as well as others concerned about education in this group that has a bit of a political focus.
- Educators of America. This group has some discussion, mostly about the politics of education, but they also post online resources for teachers.
- Science Educators. Science educators from around the world congregate in this Facebook group.
Facebook in K-12
Facebook isn't just for higher education. Use these resources for Facebook in the K-12 classrooms, too.
- Educators Network. Started by a high school teacher in an urban school, this group is all about uniting those who teach young people.
- Global Educators. These teachers are mostly in K-12 and are focused on teaching globally.
- ART Educators. Art teachers and those concerned about art programs for students will enjoy the activity on this group.
- BrainPOP. Teachers who use BrainPOP in their classrooms will definitely want to add this app to their Facebook page.
- TheApple.com. Become a fan on Facebook and access notes, discussions, and more with the other teachers here.
- Have Fun Teaching. Started by a teacher experienced in K-6, this is an excellent resource for teachers.
- Primary Teachers – Resources, ideas, stress relief!. With over 49,000 members, you are sure to find great ideas here.
- Teachers- sharing ideas and resources for the classroom!. This group is for primary and secondary teachers and is another good place to go for resources.
- Participate in a summer project. A Kindergarten teacher describes how she used Facebook to keep students engaged and connected over the summer. This idea can work for any grade level.
Facebook to Help Find a Job
Whether you are a graduating student looking for a career or an instructor moving on, these tips will help you use Facebook to find a new job.
- Get the word out. Guy Kawasaki suggests LinkedIn to get the word out, but Facebook will do just as well when it comes to letting everyone know you are looking for employment.
- Establish a positive web presence. Use these five suggestions for ways to create a professional web presence on Facebook.
- Use Facebook job search apps. Most of the major online job search sites such as Career Builders and Indeed have apps on Facebook, so take advantage of them to help you start your career.
- Understand the importance of social networking. Estimates indicate that only 5-25% of available jobs are actually posted. It's all about who you know and good timing after that.
- Find your target company or school. Many companies have a presence on Facebook. See if the companies or schools you are interested in joining are there and follow them to learn about their culture, hiring practices, to see if you know anyone there, and more.
- Include your resume on Facebook. Be sure to include a link to your online resume on your Facebook page so anyone can access your credentials.
- Include Facebook on your online resume. Make sure your Facebook page is professional, then include it in your online resume with a profile badge so prospective employers can take a look.
- Use networking to your advantage. Learn how this woman succeeded with Twitter and think about how you can do the same thing on Facebook.
- Use Facebook ads to help employers find you. Read about how these students used Facebook ads to get noticed by their future employers.
- Look through Marketplace. Marketplace on Facebook has a jobs section where you may just luck into your future career.
- Add Professional Profile. Add the Professional Profile app to your Facebook page to consolidate all your professional information in one place.