5 Best Practices for Educators on Facebook

Facebook’s roots may be planted in college campuses, but classrooms have not welcomed the social network as eagerly as their students have. Once a Harvard startup open only to college students, Facebook has been pegged as a waste of time, a classroom disruption and a bad habit that is correlated with low grades. Missouri even went so far as to ban Facebook and other social media relationships between teachers and students (the law was later repealed).
But teachers such as Reynol Junco — who recently published a study that shows certain types of Facebook use are correlated with higher GPAs — are beginning to look at ways that they can use Facebook to their advantage. 

“Students are already very familiar with the platform and spend a lot of time on the site,” Junco says. “Because of this, there is usually a good amount of activity [in class related Facebook discussions] because students receive notifications of new group posts in a timely fashion (something that doesn’t happen with Learning Management Systems).”

Here are tips from Junco and other teachers on how to effectively use Facebook in the classroom.

1. Use Facebook With a Focus

“Instead of telling your students, ‘Hey, we are going to use Facebook for this course,’” Junco says, “it’s important to frame Facebook use in a way that will make sense. For instance, you could say ‘we are going to use a Facebook group in order to interact with each other, discuss course topics, and share links of interest.”
Once teachers decide how they’re going to use Facebook, they need to follow through in a way that takes class participation on the social network seriously. Junco’s research suggests that social media efforts in the classroom are most effective when they are mandatory and impact grades.

2. Friend With Caution