Facebook, becoming part of the classroom?

facebook illustration

Sara Gabriele/Staff Writer

With an ever growing user base, now over 300 million world-wide, the social networking site Facebook is also expanding in how it is used. Commonly dubbed “the site of procrastination,” Facebook and similar social networking technologies are turning into a resource used by many for more than just chatting with friends and posting pictures.

Group pages, now utilized by many schools and organizations, can serve as dynamic resources containing pictures, links, videos, information about upcoming events and discussion boards.

Although much of the content on these pages is similar to other websites, Facebook creates a place for it all to converge, which makes it a single place users often frequent.

“I don’t know if there’s anything inherently superior to Facebook. It’s just the fact that it’s where students are, “ media specialist Kim Traw said. “I think Facebook could be a great resource for schools.”

Although not yet used by many CFHS teachers, educators across the country have begun utilizing the site as a way to organize their classes and communicate with students by posting links and resources, using the discussion forum to address questions, and posting reminders about or clarifying assignments in status updates.

Students use pages such as these and Facebook’s message function to collaborate with others on class projects, but the site also makes it possible to network with others from across the country and rest of the world. Many colleges, for example, have groups that include discussion boards that prospective students use to ask current students questions about information usually confined to on-campus visits, such as dorm life and the details of applying.

Another feature on the site used by many students is the event function which allows the creator to post information and links about an event, share details about times and location, see who is coming via the RSVP function and send reminders to large groups of people.

Junior Karly Fuller recently used the site to get out the word about her garage sale for Kenya.

“It was really nice because there was a lot to explain, and it was a way to tell a lot of people about it that I would never have gotten a chance to otherwise,” she said.

Junior Jarek Bakken uses the site to help organize the high school church group Big House.

“Facebook is definitely the best way to get ahold of people. Everyone checks their Facebooks. It’s where people are.”

However, the trademark blue banner of Facebook is not seen on the screens of CFHS computers due to a school-wide ban by the district last year. The site presents potential complications such as the appropriateness of pages, cyber-bullying and the need to monitor its use.

“In 21st century skills, technology is a large component. We need to teach people how to be using these tools appropriately; Facebook is a phenomenon, and by ignoring it, we’re doing our students a disservice,” guidance counselor Susan Langan said.

Langan also commented, “Everything we do is about getting kids information: information about colleges, scholarships, groups we run, community service events, meetings, etc. Most kids don’t listen to or can’t hear the daily announcements, and we’ve found most kids don’t check their emails anymore. But they do check their Facebooks. It presents so many awesome possibilities.”

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