A couple of years ago one of my student Stage Managers–a Junior in
college–created a Facebook Group for our Departmental Production in the
Theater Department. It was an eye opener for me and since then I have
moved much of my course management into Facebook. Logistically I operate
my entire Associates in Technical Theater Program from our Facebook
Group Page now. Each semester I ask my new students to join the group–
Now, when I come into the building I am often asked, have you checked
your Facebook lately? And even if I did right before I went to sleep
last night, there is usually new updates that the students expect me to
know about by 9 the next morning. There is no doubt FB has its
limitations as a LMS. But as a supplement to other tools it has
revolutionized the way I teach and interact with my students. Above all
it has helped create a learning community and sustains that community
far beyond any traditional class time structure. Slowly all my Alum’s
have friended me, each new discovery, Wow! you are on FB!
A couple of the lessons I have learned is not to Friend your students.
Let them come to you. This respects their privacy. They don’t need to
Friend you to participate in the Group. The Group feature is very
powerful and I use it aggressively and extensively to communicate,
coordinate and instruct. I post my docs on Google Docs as links either
on the Wall, or as discussions or as messages–or using all of these
One of the biggest challenges is to get them to take FB seriously as an
on-line persona, and the foundation for the development of their
professional ePortfolio for Life Long Learning. I remind them that they
should never put something on FB that their Grandmothers would object
to; that Google saves everything forever. More importantly I try and get
them to use it as a tool for their professional development and
portfolio. Pictures, documents and other links can be sorted into a
documentation of their activity and the development of competencies.
Visual artifacts verify their participation, attention to detail and
immersion. Pages can be created right in FB for an ePortfolio Page.
I love the ‘Assign Officer’ feature. The Department Heads take over the
administration of the Group for day to day communication and I try and
stay ahead with events. Leadership skills are quickly passed around when
you give them responsibility and roles in their Group. It becomes part
of their resume and the beginning of the digital story of their
professional journey. I have been trying to get a student business going
as a Group because the structure is so friendly to order a complex
activity like Production Management for example.
Self generating content, always new and fresh, updating status, updating
Officers, and especially events. In my area we live by events and
classes are intermingled as events them selves. I always try and keep
things global for serendipity or to link other people from outside the
As I try and push FB into places I want it to go as a LMS, I come back
to the realization that the most useful phenomenon associated with a
web2.0 application–especially FB– is its ability to create and sustain a
community. In this way it is world starting, spinning off many Groups.
Some of this activity is predictable and some of it is emergent. Again,
the creation of being: 'onto emergent'–It is the emergent that I am most
interested in. And you?