Two things to consider before you decide if there is a role for Twitter and Facebook in education

24 January 2012

Should we embrace social media tools like Twitter and Facebook in education?

I have found that when I talk to teachers about the use of Twitter and Facebook in education, there are very few teachers who are undecided on their position as to whether or not teachers should embrace social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook as teaching tools.


Over the course of this week I want to take a look at the role of social media tools in education.  In particular we will look at the two most popular social media sites; Twitter and Facebook.

But before you jump to conclusions, consider the following two statistics:

1. The term “How to get on Facebook from school” is typed into Google 110 000 times every month (that’s over 3600 times a day!)

2. 92% of all students are on Facebook.  These students visit Facebook on average six times a day, spending an average of 100 minutes a day on the site.

What’s all this mean?

Two things (one positive and one negative):

1. Your students are already hanging out on Facebook.  

This is important for you to understand.  Often teachers will try and drive students to use certain tools or programs but when the students are not constantly required to go there they stop engaging with the technology.

In my opinion if you are looking for a place to put your content so as to interact with your students  it is far easier to put my course content where the students are already going.

The problem with this is that:

2. The potential for distraction and interruption is magnified.

Obviously if you are directing your students to use Facebook during class time you are asking for trouble! I was talking to teacher last year that tried to get his year 9 students to look at a Facebook fan page that he created and was wondering why his lesson was a disaster.  It would be much better t have the students look at the fan page and leave a comment as a homework task or assignment.

So is there a role for Twitter and Facebook in education?

I think everything has its place.  If you are going to embrace Twitter and Facebook in education then you need to do it in the right way.

The next couple of posts will show you how.


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