There are over 1 billion active users on Facebook, as of October 2012. When you break that number down by country, 50.3% of all North Americans use Facebook regularly. These stats make it clear that Facebook has become quite the staple when it comes to communication with friends and family. It has even made it possible to reunite with people you had thought you’d never see again. Facebook is everywhere; from your 11-year-old niece to your 75-year-old grandmother, everyone’s using it. Brands, businesses, and even schools are on it. And so are your students, so why aren’t you using it?
“Fully 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites,” states Pew Internet in their social networking statistics from September of this year. The research they’ve compiled also states that 86% of 18-29 year-olds use social media. In line with that data, a teacher in Portland, Oregon, has decided to embrace social media in her classroom and has seen overwhelming results: grades have gone up more than 50%. With such overwhelming numbers, you’d think that teachers everywhere would be taking advantage of these great sites to gain engagement and the participation of their students. But this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Not only is the use of social media free, it’s also a fun and interactive way to catch the attentions of your students. Create a class ‘page’ and use that as a home base of operations. Start with a lesson on social responsibility, teaching students about the importance of an appropriate profile; their employers will be checking their Facebook pages someday!
From there take polls, post extra credit assignments, remind students what homework is due, and even post pictures of your most recent class fieldtrip. The possibilities are endless; be creative! Have students post questions about homework assignments to be reviewed by their peers. Take up a classroom cause on Facebook’s Causes App. Follow mentors, politicians, and other important public figures to gain insight and information about the people you study. Start and share a class blog.
Some classes have even started using Facebook’s timeline configuration in history lessons and reports. The video that is linked HERE shows a class that has taken such topics as Fashion from 1950 – present and 20th century inventions, and has provided detailed information on the topics in linear, consecutive data through the use of the timeline. This kind of activity would be great in any classroom, and easy to accomplish with groups because of how easy it is to collaborate with Facebook.
As one can see, Facebook can become a great tool to utilize in your classroom setting. Let us know if you use it in your classroom!