Should teachers encourage learners to go onto Facebook?

Friday, August 7th, 2009 | internet

Without hesitation some adults will say, “No”.  Perhaps they are concerned about the potential dangers to young people when they roam around on the internet, leaving them exposed to predators.

While caution is required, one should not be too quick to throw out the bathwater – there may be a baby in the bath.  Of course, it would be irresponsible to encourage learners to become part of a social network without giving them proper guidance.  But some studies show that social networks – of which Facebook is only one example – can have educational spin-offs.

Among the educational gains are the following:

When young people go online on a regular basis, they acquire valuable technical skills.

A social network helps a learner to develop communication skills.

Creativity is encouraged – just think about the way in which they will be presenting their own world to others by means of pictures, and vying with their friends to create interesting things to publish.

One researcher said:

“What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today.”

As part of their life long learning teachers may want to join a social network and get a first-hand feel for what it offers.  Just imagine what it could do for their 21st century skills!

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5 Comments to Should teachers encourage learners to go onto Facebook?

ALBIE
Friday, 7 August, 2009

Yes, Face it …. it is a Book with more that just Photo and Faces. It is “filled” with stories, experiences, “sharing of interests”, LITNUM “activities”, and a host of other “Educational + Technological” skills that are being “practice” – from writing a CV, to Facts and Figures, to Layout, Uploading and so on.

Languages (reading and writing) is just one component that get “exposure”.

To me the GREATEST advantage of FaceBook is as you stated Kobus is …. C O M M U N I C A T I O N !!! That is what the world needs so desperately !!

Albie a book without a face !

miles3wp
Friday, 7 August, 2009

Taking into account my own experience concerning Facebook, the words, communicate and addictive, comes to mind…. Like Mixit, young people with WAP and Windows mobile enabled cellphones, are chatting away! Facebook is the new Mixit…. Besides using pc’s to surf the internet, the young generation wants technology on the go. Facebook is a great way to get into contact with people, young and old, new contacts, the forgotten and none the least, the unexpected, long lost friend. So, the bottomline is, networking skills, social interaction, ict skills, reading, writing, technical skills…all outweigh the sceptical and cynical. Yes, we are utilizing available technology to bridge the “digital devide”.

Mark C
Saturday, 8 August, 2009

Learners should be allowed to use Facebook, but some protocols should be observed. Unfortunately all the necessary precautions and warnings must accompany its use. Being on Facebook myself I learnt a lot and I am in touch with a lot of my ex-students, the students I tutor and family. I belong to a few groups of like-minded people and make a contribution or two. My own 12-year old son is not allowed to use Facebook unless I am there and he uses my profile. As with every tool there is some abuse and this should be kept to the minimum. The social network aspect of facebook regulates itself.

Could I mention two other tools? Twitter is a great tool to use to teach learners to say a lot using a few words (This does not apply to MarkC). The other is Skype (Chas’ favourite at 6 am). I notice that it is the trend overseas is to use VOIP since it is a cheaper way of communication. Of course in good ol’ SA, its still so damn expensive.

Pat
Saturday, 8 August, 2009

I found this article interesting about how to use some facebook applications in the classroom: http://www.astd.org/LC/2009/0709_ellis.htm. Students will use it anyway, so shouldn’t we show them appropriate ways to use it? Great post!

Husain M
Tuesday, 11 August, 2009

Like all other 21st Century skills, I see Face book as a modern form of socialization. Like all other forms of socialization, there are guidelines that have to be adhered to, but it also teaches individuals rules of interaction. It can be a useful tool, especially because it does not confine communication and interaction to four walls. Kids learn to conduct themselves accordingly in a public forum, and this in itself is a monitoring process, since ‘other people will see what I posted’, unless they choose to go private.

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