What goes around, comes around … and goes around again. And when we’re talking about social media, it seems the speed of that cycle is just that much faster.
For example, Facebook is already retro. At the end of our last school year — that would be June of this year, only five months ago — I heard students saying, “Facebook! Oh that’s sooooo 10 minutes ago!” There must have been a change of heart over the summer, however, for it now seems to be enormously popular with that same crowd.
Facebook is one of those tools that I have wanted to incorporate into the classroom, but I’m finding my efforts to do so frustrated.
Before I go any further, I will state emphatically that I have no interest in becoming Facebook “friends” with students, a move that in my opinion would be completely unprofessional.
There are a couple of ways that I have tried to use Facebook as a tool for building students’ ability to make connections between texts and their world. First, I like to ask them to build a Facebook profile for a main character. Take Macbeth, for example. Students learn a lot about the Thane by building him a Facebook profile and thereby asking questions like, “Who are his friends? What groups would he join? What would be on his wall?”
The second main use I’ve found for Facebook is as a tool for students who are building media campaigns. Creating a Facebook group and event for imaginary media campaigns is a natural choice for students. Doing so helps them reconsider questions like who their target audience is and what images best communicate their ideas.
But I’m finding my efforts to use Facebook stymied by school internet security. (More on that another day.) In short, I can’t access Facebook in the classroom or lab. This means that students can’t present their online Facebook work, and I can’t evaluate it. And since becoming a ‘friend’ with a student is not an option for me personally, I’m not going to be able to evaluate it outside of the classroom, either
So I guess that what I’m looking for now is a blank electronic template that looks like a Facebook profile. Perhaps a template that is created in PowerPoint and links only from slide to slide rather than to actual online groups or friends. If done well, the students might really enjoy the activity.
Or maybe I could go back to paper and pen. Or to quill and ink. Or perhaps chalk and slate.
Image by Jacob Botter