Sometimes I will hear instructors say, “Facebook is destroying the written word.” “No one can communicate anymore.” (Yes, I have said this once or twice too.)
Should instructors fly or fight when it comes to using Facebook in the classroom?
After years of teaching while social media grew into its icon status today, I have found that instructors should do neither. Facebook isn’t the contender. And if you think it is, sorry to tell you this, but you are not going to come out on top against this mass challenger. Facebook and other social media websites are what attract audiences today because of their ease of use and fast informative capabilities.
Instead of putting on your boxing gloves with the intent to take out Facebook (aka, telling your students that it is silly and has no purpose and is a waste of time), instructors should get in the ring and show students how to put on the gloves and pack the most punch when it comes to using social media to their, the instructor’s and student’s, advantage.
1) Create a Professional Facebook
Your Facebook name should include your title, such as “Instructor Jodie Liedke.” Your profile photo should be of high pixel/visual quality (not fuzzy or too small) and should be from the waist up. Your cover photo should demonstrate a current activity or event that your university or students are involved with. (Currently, I have a photo of my Composition class and me that highlights the service-learning project they are working on with the United Nation’s World Food Program Freerice.) If you consider the “look” of your profile, so will your students.
2) Post Quality Content
Upload news stories, video clips, or “how to’s” from commendable sources that relate to your classes or program that you teach. Presently, I’m teaching Ethics, so I post multiple clips that deal with current ethical issues, such as the media coverage about news anchor, Jennifer Livingston. You will notice that your students will begin to post clips on your wall that they have found helpful or interesting too.
3) Have In-depth Discussions
Don’t just post content. Pose a question with the story: “What do you think about Livingston’s choice to go public with the viewer’s comment? Was this the morally correct choice thinking in terms of deontology, feminism, utilitarianism, etc.? Would you have done the same thing, why or why not?” This will spark an on-line conversation between students that encourages their critical thinking and application skills.
Instead of trying to fight Facebook, use it to your advantage as an instructor to show your students professionalism and educate them on what’s going on in their field, so they can think critically about how it affects them and their community. Use Facebook as a learning tool, and you and your students will come out with the champion title belt instead of just a sweaty pair of socks.