Using Facebook with students: Is it worth the risk?

Using social medias in school may scare some teachers, with good reason. Who hasn’t heard about students being not only bullied in school but also on social medias by their classmates. This has sometimes even led to horrible endings, such as suicide. Is Facebook, or any other social media for that matter, really this evil tool? Should teachers avoid using it as part of their teaching activities?

At this point, I’m not sure I can offer a simple answer. Whether a teacher uses Facebook in class or not, bullying will still take place on social medias. With that in my mind, maybe teachers can benefit from the advantages that Facebook has to offer. I believe this has to be done very carefully. An article on mashable.com, ”5 Best Practices For Educators on Facebook”, offers teachers some tips on how to make sure that they use Facebook cautiously (http://mashable.com/2011/12/05/educators-on-facebook/). For example, the writer suggests to use a group and to be careful with who you friend on Facebook. Our Computer Applications for ESL teaching, Mr Mark Miller has offered a similar opinion. In class, he mentioned how the use of Facebook with students should only be made via a group and that we should avoid friending students.

Facebook has many useful purposes for a teacher. Not only does it make it easier to communicate with their students, but it might also make it a little more interesting for them too. The website onlinecollege.com has published an article called ”100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom” (http://www.onlinecollege.org/2009/10/20/100-ways-you-should-be-using-facebook-in-your-classroom/). It offers many ways to use Facebook and many of them involve communication. If Facebook can help teachers share articles, information or anything else related to what they are teaching, then maybe using it isn’t such a bad thing, as long as it is done carefully! 

In the end, I believe that teachers can benefit greatly from the use of Facebook, as long as they are aware of the dangers of it and they plan it with careful consideration. As for the bullying aspect of social medias, the optimist in me now hopes that using Facebook groups and having to answer other students’ questions can create a more positive relationship between students! As Sarah Stewart mentions in her blog (http://sarah-stewart.blogspot.ca/2012/02/using-facebook-for-teaching-learning.html), students can help other students and they can grow a little closer because of that.

As a final word for teachers considering the use of Facebook, I offer this: Faceboook can be a great ally in your classroom, as long as you are aware of the dangers of it!