How to Use Facebook in the College Classroom
Caroline Lego Muñoz
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Terri L. Towner
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2009 Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education conference in Charleston, South Carolina.
The purpose of this research is to propose the idea of using the social network site, Facebook, for teacher education. Specifically, this research explores the advantages of this new Web 2.0 medium, and illustrates the different levels of course integration at an instructor’s disposal. In addition, it provides specific instructions on how to use Facebook and a discussion of “best practice” policies that can be ethically implemented within the classroom. Specific attention is given to suggestions for creating a professional Facebook presence in which future teachers can emulate.
Students are heavily immersed in Web 2.0 technologies (i.e. blogs, twitter, podcasts, wikis, social network sites, virtual worlds, video sharing and photo sharing). They are crafting on-line lives that seamlessly meld with their off-line world. Indeed, the internet is playing an increasingly important role in not only students’ social life, but also academic. Educators are now turning to Web 2.0 tools, drawing upon their ability to assist in creating, collaborating on and sharing content. At present, little empirical research has been conducted on the value of Web 2.0 in education (Crook & Harrison, 2008). Research has begun to examine social network sites, but few studies have specifically addressed its role in pedagogy (for notable exceptions see Charnigo & Barnett-Ellis, 2007; Hewitt & Forte, 2006; Mathews, 2006; Mazer, Murphy & Simonds, 2007; Selwyn, 2007; Towner & VanHorn, 2007). Teacher education literature has also started to address this area (Coutts, Dawson, Boyer, & Ferdig, 2007; Grant, 2008; Saunders, 2008).
Social network sites (also called social networking sites) are quickly becoming ubiquitous online. The most popular of these websites are Myspace, bebo, and Facebook
(Stelter, 2008). While technological differences abound, social network sites are “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (Boyd & Ellison, 2008, p. 211). Social network sites can help facilitate the meeting of strangers, however, individuals are also using social network sites to maintain and/or strengthen their current, off line social networks (Boyd & Ellison, 2008). Facebook, specifically, has been found to be used to reinforce current offline relationships (Lampe, Ellison & Steinfield, 2006). As previous communication technologies (e.g. email, chat rooms, bulletin boards, etc.) have been integrated into the way we teach and administer our courses, social network sites may also have a place in our classroom. To date, the reactions of using social network sites for educational purposes are mixed. Concerns related to privacy and anxiety in interacting with professors in this environment (Hewitt & Forte, 2006), a belief that it does not serve an academic purpose (Charnigo & BarnetEllis 2007) and the opinion that faculty should simply avoid “educationally appropriating” these “backstage” social spaces (Selwyn, 2007) have been expressed. In fact, the expression, “creepy treehouse” has been appropriated to explain educators’ use of online social spaces like Facebook (Young, 2008). Yet, other studies have supported that notion of using social network sites in education. For example, two-thirds of students surveyed in one study were “comfortable” with faculty on Facebook (Hewitt & Forte, 2006) and another study found that 39%...