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Friday, March 13, 2009

The Power of Facebook?

I read an article by Ryan Bretag yesterday from the Tech & Learning blog entitled "Adult Invasion Equals Change of Hangout?" In it, Ryan says that Facebook, which started out as a college only crowd social network, is being taken over by adults. He ponders, with a glimpse back into his own childhood, how long it will be before kids find a new place to hang out. One stat that he quoted from Inside Facebook was that the fastest growing population to join Facebook is women over the age of 55 - up 175.3% over the last 120 days. That got me to thinking: Is Facebook just what technology proponents needed? Will Facebook show those teachers who are not digital natives how easy technology is to use today and give them the confidence they need to start using Web 2.0 tools in their classroom? My personal feeling is that Facebook is 100 times easier to use (read between the lines: basic) than MySpace. It doesn't seemed designed for the teenage crowd like I feel MySpace is. I use Facebook for personal use, not professional, but I'm seeing more and more of my colleagues on Facebook. This isn't a discussion on whether or not these tools should be used in school. My question is will this speed up the integration of technology in our classrooms? Because of the ease of use, do you think we will no longer have to wait for the "old teachers" to retire and bring in the "new blood?" I would love to hear your thoughts.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Yes. No.

I think it will be the first social media application that millions of teachers will use. It is a "gateway" application in that respect. My own personal experience is that a large number of "non-techies" that I know have become fairly active Facebook users in the past 3 months.

The big question is: will their personal use of a social media application transfer in any way to their classroom? My gut feeling says no. I hope I'm very wrong on this one though.

Something else to consider... We try to educate students on internet safety, but I'm a little nervous about the sheer VOLUME of teachers who are having their very first social network experience all of a sudden. Who is educating THEM on the appropriate/inappropriateness of using a tool where they will be able to interact with students outside of a classroom? I've already seen a handful of cringe-worthy exchanges between teachers and their current or former students on Facebook.

J Allen said...

I agree about how teachers are using Facebook. They need to be educated just as much as the kids. And I also see your point about the transfer to the classroom. I think that's a big misconception about digital natives. Yeah, they can use the technology, but that's just Step 1. They still have to been trained to apply it to the classroom.