Friday, April 18, 2008

Facebook EDU

This is my response to the Facebook-EDU at

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Facebook-EDU/10953198817 registration required

I created two facebook groups to support two of my classes this semester. One for Statics a sophomore class in Engineering at

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=21628805067 registration required

Due to low participation from students it became information only. The idea was that since students are on facebook so it should be realtively easy to get them responding to the educational support on the facebook. It turned out that most of the students see facebook as a social space and they would prefer that the formal education does not intrude in it.

It could be done by either enticing them or by coercing them but on their own free choice very few who need the online resource to study like athelets who are out of town a lot or student who miss classes will use the online resource. Here is a study done at Harvard on how online resources are used in educational setting.

http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/digitalnatives/files/2008/03/instructionaltechnologysurvey.pdf

I also had another group for another course to just show how facebook work at

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9324447860 registration required

It was information only too. I have used other programs to support learning so I am not totally novice when I write this.

Also, I suggested a port of a general pupose calculator that could do algebra and claculas problem to facebook here

http://apps.facebook.com/maximaphp/?page=2 registration required

It works but gets "Try Again" error when the systems are busy.

Also this group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8663279325 (registration required) to promote open free education resources.

I am involved into other facebook groups but these were the once who were directly related to the support of classroom instructions.

Facebook is an excellent program and it is probably the best when it comes to semi formal networking. It seems to be the easiest one to collect digital friends. Where else some one can get over eight hundred FB friends in 10 weeks time. But also manage to get blocked twice in doing that. As I said facebook encourages to connect but also wants to keep the activity in check. Here is a post I wrote to air my views.

http://randomthougts101.blogspot.com/2008/03/facebook-blocks-from-adding-members.html

I am currently using Ning to teach one of my course. Facebook groups really are not sufficient to do the job. I am sure people could say that Stanford is supporting a course on facebook using a facebook. They have a valid point but I still think that facebook needs better then discussion and better response time.

My conclusion after using facebook intensively for 10 weeks that facebook is a extremey good progarm for socializing and playing around but it is really not ready for serious professional work such as teaching and learning.

It is a new program and seductive like a cute young baby that can suck people in. But the question is will it stay seductively cute while it grows up?

If people have to do some serious work they may need some more clear cut TOS not some vague script plus the perception of people have to shift from playground to work ground. Yes, I know that we are in 21st century and the boundaries between work and play are blurring, therefore, it is not as strong argument as it was in the past.

As far as my experienced is concerned it has been mixed. For some thing like for connecting and communicating with people there is nothing better than facebook but when it comes to connecting fast facebook will not let that happen.

The "discussion" application is not enough and add on facebook applications can not do much because if they do not respond in time users get "Try again" error. That leaves one with very little choice except to send tons of good karma and trees for the patches of FB friends or try friends for sale or get hundreds of posting on fun wall. May be that is the intent of Facebook designers and they are very successful doing that because from all counts facebook is the fastest growing social networking program. They probably do not want any thing more than that because current design is getting the job done and facebook.edu is really pushing the limits of a program it was not designed to do.

The educators especially the ones in hard subjects like Science, Math and Engineering may have to think really hard before investing their time into one another application that promises to enhance the teaching and learning process but may be under powered for the job.

1 comment:

BJ said...

I've been teaching the Facebook courses at Stanford.

I agree that the Group feature of Facebook is not very good. I've been complaining about this to Facebook since May of 2007 (when Platform launched).

Groups are good for bringing people together and for then sending email to them. But nothing else is very compelling.

"Pages" on Facebook have better functionality, but they don't bring people together well because invitations are not simple.

So Facebook needs to get their act together on this front. If not, someone could step in with some great group tool and FB will lose out.

In my courses we use wikis (like PBwiki) and Google Docs a lot. To run a course completely on Facebook is too difficult.

BJ Fogg
Stanford University

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