Facebook – Keeping your students engaged

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So Facebook has just gone past 1.8 billion active users. Pretty much everyone we know uses or checks out Facebook on a daily basis. It would seem that Facebook has infiltrated everyday life.

There is also a lot of criticism levelled at social media, especially on how distracting platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat can be. However, if used right, these platforms can become a powerful tool for teachers to engage with their students. Facebook offers plenty of opportunities for learning and interactivity and also for students to remake the educational landscape.

In a world where connecting is important and learning through technology is a key to success, it is a wonder why educators shy away from this very powerful tool. Facebook is an incredible learning tool and if teachers utilise Facebook effectively, students and teachers can use this platform for class projects, enhancing communication and engage students in a manner that might not be entirely possible in traditional classroom settings.

In a recent study, (Thalluri J and Penman J, 2014), students studying a Pathology course from the University of South Australia were placed into a study aiming to understand the impact the social networking site Facebook has on learning and teaching. During the study, students completed a pre-intervention questionnaire mainly to understand their perceptions. Students worked in groups discussing case scenarios via this platform and at the conclusion of the course completed a post-intervention questionnaire to evaluate the learning that was transpiring. Of the 152 students enrolled in the course, 148 participated in the Facebook group. Of those 148 students, 33% access Facebook two to three times per day and 25% access Facebook more than six times a day and 96% thought Facebook was a useful learning tool.  Another study by Irwin, et al (2012) concluded that Facebook is well used by students and may be an excellent tool to integrate into the learning resources for university courses.

So why is Facebook an effective platform and how can we teachers use it to engage our students?

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Facebook is  FREE!

Almost every student is familiar with Facebook and its a great site for collaborative learning. Sometimes a school would pay thousands for a Learning Management System just so students can collaborate, store their work digitally and communicate. Facebook does all these three.

Keep your students thinking about your subject and Facebook is Fun

Students love social media and staying social online. Facebook enables students to see that content can be fun and discussed in a way that is different to a “must learn” environment of the classroom.

Facebook is checked several times a day by students.- and data have backed this statement up to a degree. So when a teacher posts something on the class page, it will most likely be looked at within minutes. So even if the student doesn’t fully engage themselves with your post, they have at least read it or viewed it and this gets them thinking about your subject. Facebook doesn’t stop when the bell goes at the end of the day.

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Every now and then I would post something on Facebook. It might be an article or a video from YouTube and when I do, I can see who has viewed it. From my experience, I usually have 50% of the group viewing my post within 10 minutes.

Students also love competitions and these days are getting right into Kahoot. Check out Kahoot if you haven’t  already, as it is a great resource for formative assessment. Having Kahoot competitions from home while students are connecting via their lounge rooms is a great way to connect and keep them thinking about your subject.

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Weekly competitions, quizzes and polls are all great ways for the teacher to engage with their pupils.

Students will learn 21st-century skills

A study from the University of Minnesota discovered that social networking sites like Facebook are encouraging students to use 21st-century skills that we want them to develop to become successful today and tomorrow.

The social media marketer is now an integral part of any business. It is the social media marketer whose job is to connect the people with the company. Businesses include a media marketing strategy and students today are the people filling these positions. Social media has created a new brand of professionals and these young people are becoming experts at developing a sense of Internet presence and they are turning basic functions into more complex. Just watch YouTube to see how well these young people are using technology and social media to make a name for themselves. PBL at its finest.

Parents can be included

Most parents will be curious about what their children are watching and viewing on Facebook. Through feedback from students, parents are becoming interested in the page and I guess they are happy seeing the teacher being enthusiastic about their child’s schooling. Posts can also build discussion between parents and child enthusiastic about their child’s schooling. Posts can also build discussion between parents and child

Students are well connected and learn from each other

Students post their work online, share notes and ask questions which are answered by peers or by the teacher. Students can read these notes and assessment task notifications at any time and is readily and easily accessible. Students are learning from each other, share their experiences and making suggestions to their learning.online, share notes and ask questions which are answered by peers or by the teacher. Students can read these notes and assessment task notifications at any time and is readily and easily accessible. Students are learning from each other, share their experiences and making suggestions to their learning.

Students can show and tell via the Facebook page and groups for class projects and assignments can work together. These students can also interact with the world and students from other classes.

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Class resources are readily accessible and feedback is almost instant

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Create a poll – request students’ feedback or use this as a formative assessment task.

Create a photo album – show off some of the students really good work. Use photo albums as a resource for work samples or exemplars for students.

Create a Doc – permission slips, assessment tasks, notifications, worksheets, etc all can be posted on Facebook and hence save paper.  Inform them of upcoming assessment tasks and give tips and suggestions, including rubrics and scaffolds. Inform your students of their progress.

Create an event – inform students when tasks are due, exams are to be sat and details of that excursion which can also include a doc with permission notes.

Live Video – go live and explain topics that were learned that day. Going live can also show students with real life examples, showing content that is practical in nature and in its real element. Just recently I was explaining the “principles of training” to my PDHPE students. Although students did understand my explanations via classroom activities, they understood the practical nature when I went live from a football game during a teams warm up. Seeing the visual of what was learnt in the classroom was positively accepted through comments made while going “live”

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Enhances teacher/student relationships

The teacher gets to know the student better and the student can see the teacher in another light which is away from the classroom.

Students who might otherwise not speak up in class and are intrinsic in nature may find this platform a more comfortable place to express opinions and contribute to the discussion.

It can prevent Facebook from being a complete distraction

I have found that using Facebook for education, students are less tempted to use it inappropriately in class. Schools should also have a social media account. It is the best form of communication between parents and school, between the school and the community.

My son attends a new school in the newly developed community of Ellara, just around the corner from the new business parks of Marsden Park. The school was and still being promoted as a new age learning school. St Luke’s communicate mainly through social media, a platform which no doubt will be the major source of communication when our children are in the prime of their careers. Not only are these students seeing that the school community is well connected but they are also seeing that Facebook is a place for appropiate communication. Just recently the school Principal went live to discuss uniform with parents. A great way to engage with parents but also modeling to students a realistic and reasonable way to communicate with the outside world.

Recently I had attended a conference on flip learning. Flip learning is only possible if students have access to the video that the teacher suggests. Being a “flipper” I use Facebook to post my videos for students to watch, take notes and partipcate in the online interactive activities.

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I was amazed at a number of schools that have blocked Facebook and YouTube perceiving it to be a hindrance rather than using it to the schools advantaged.

Schools should change perceptions and use these popular mediums to their advantage, but of course, ensure students are aware of the privacy issues and course, ensure students are aware of the privacy issues and appropriate use of these sites.

The new craze, Fidget spinners have become popular and shopping centres are selling out at a fast rate.  However, one innovated teacher has used this to his advantage rather than wasting several minutes trying to get students to put them away. He has used them as part of his Science experiment.  They’re going to be there. Just like phones are going to be there and what we need to do is channel students’ energy in positive ways.

I am a member of a Facebook page that passionately follows a footy team, Rules and regulations are outlined at the top of the page. If a person fails to abide by the rules, they are warned and usually learn from their mistakes. Conversation is at an all time high and people are learning from each other even if it’s just about footy. If you have strict but reasonable rules and regulations, a class Facebook page will run smoothy.

So what are leaders afraid of? Teach the children the proper use of Facebook and let them develop that strong relationship with you.

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Reference list:

Helft, Miguel (2010). “Facebook Makes Headway Around the World.” The New York Times. 8 July 2010, p. B1. Retrieved from NY Times online on May 3, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/technology/companies/08facebook.html?scp=2&sq=facebook&st=cse

Irwin, et al (2012). Students’ perceptions of using Facebook as an interactive learning resource at university. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.

Thalluri J and Penman J.(2014). Staying connected and engaged with the use of Facebook: Experiences of studying Pathology: In Proceedings of OpenCourseWare Consortium Global 2014: Open Education for a Multicultural World.

Young, Jeffrey R. (2010). “How Social Networking Helps Teaching (and Worries Some Professors).” The Chronicle of Higher Education. May 4, 2017. Accessed online. http://chronicle.com/article/How-Social-Networking-Helps/123654

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