Sunday, 7 June 2009

Using Facebook To Connect With Students

OK, so, unless you have been living off the grid or under, you've heard of facebook, the great/famous social networking tool. It's an excellent way to connect with people, and this fall I may use it to connect with my students by creating a facebook group. There is already a "connection" tool used by our school (don't want to mention it, I'll avoid the legal issues), but very few students use it because: (1) It's not very user friendly (2) it is very click-happy and (3) it's not facebook!! The reason why I would like to use facebook are:
  1. Mobile Friendly: facebook is smart and dumbphone friendly, students can send messages, update status, etc. via text message or mobile app. Our current "connection" tool is years behind this.
  2. Everyone's Using It: There's about 200 million facebook users, I would say that 95% of my students are on it (they're always checking it with their cellphones during the labs)
  3. Excellent way to deal with questions: Questions could be posted and myself or a student could respond to it.
  4. It's Facebook: Connection, connection, connection!!!
Reasons why I may not use it are:
  1. Privacy: I'll have to strictly monitor what photos others and myself put up of me on facebook. Also, since I do teach at a Canadian university, the computer people may not be happy that students are forced to use a service where data is sent to US servers (damn the Patriot Act). This is the reason why my university and others haven't switched to Google Apps.
  2. Internal Fighting: I heard a story about a person creating a group for his workplace, members started slinging personal insults to each other, and eventually the creator lost his job. Not cool.
  3. Forcing Students to use a non-university app: My university paid big bucks for its current "connection tool", administrators may not be happy if I get students to use this free app.
It is definitely a tough call. I'm going to talk it over with coworkers, students, and the web. I'm definitely looking for your feedback and I'll let you know what my final decision is.
Note: Hope you like the new feel of this blog.


  1. Hey Sheldon!

    Are you referring to the app used by the distance ed courses and some of the campus courses? If so, I have to agree that it sucks. And if you're talking about the other app that can be accessed by the home page...I've looked at it once and decided it sucks too.

    Y'know, there is no reason why you can't have two FB profiles - 1 personal for friends and the like, and 1 for professional use. I know people that have done just that out of fear of job loss, etc.

  2. BTW, it's Bonnie Degenhardt...using my Blogger account :)