I’ve been reading these articles about whether to use Facebook in education or not. Some say it is a great way and some believe it’s just the opposite. In my opinion, it depends on your learners needs and your aim as a teacher. For me, it’s been working perfectly so far!
Currently I’m working in a language school, teaching young learners and adults who are mostly university students. The other week, a university student asked me how they could work on their English further outside the classroom, which is a big problem for most English language learners here in Turkey. That day, this simple question got me thinking. I could easily tell him to listen to English music, watch movies or Tv series, read books or magazines and etc. These are okay, but not enough. We all know that language is more than this. It is more meaningful when you communicate with others.
Asking myself the question ‘how can I engage them in a meaningful, useful and at the same time fun activity in the outside world?’, finally I came up with this idea. FACEBOOK! It’s been right in front of me the whole time. Until lately, Facebook, for me, was only a way to get in touch with my old friends and make new ones, or to be in closer relations with people living away from me, and sometimes just to know what my friends were having for lunch.
That day all night I read on to learn how to use facebook for education, got some practical ideas and immediately implemented them.
First of all, I created a seperate group just for my General English classes which are pre-intermediate and intermediate. Then the next step was informing the students about my idea. All were very curious, and they were not the only ones wondering how it would be.. Even I did not know if they would like it or not. But the results have been quite satisfactory both for the students and consequently me.
There are many ways to carry out class projects in your facebook group. Below are some examples I’ve applied so far.
Interactive Teaching. They were asked to post English proverbs to the group. The next day in the classroom, we discussed about their meanings, they voted for their favorites, and we tried to find Turkish equivalents. This was really interesting for them.
Revision. Last week, I taught Future Tense in the classroom, so the group was a perfect place to revise it simply asking about their weekend plans.
Making announcements. You can inform them about up-coming tests, events, homework, or anything you can think of. Or let them know about the make up lesson like I did.
Sharing interesting sites that they would be interested in. You can also let the students share websites or it can only be you. In our group it’s both the teacher and the students. For example, the other day I shared this website www.lyricstraining.com which provides an easy and fun method to learn and improve foreign languages skills, through the music videos and lyrics of your favorite songs. This website is one of my favorites!
Creating Stories. This was the very first activity we did. I gave them a sentence as a starter and then it was their duty to finish the story. Here it can be a little problem in terms of story sequencing if they send a post at the same time 🙂
Or simply asking an interesting question just to keep them think about what’s going on around the world. It can be about technology, health, or anything you want them to talk about. Mine was a topic that we all love to discuss. Aliens.
Benefits I got so far
First of all, as a popular communication tool, Facebook is a great way to promote collaboration outside the classroom. And as students feel really comfortable with FB, they are less shy and more willing to share things and participate in activities. I also believe you give them the opportunity to use FB for their learning which triggers personal responsibility. These are some of the many reasons why I like FB.
What we did with FB can be seen as a writing practice. And yes it is unless you take it to the classroom. When you do, it becomes a meaningful discussion topic, or simply just a conversation starter which they are all interested in. It all depends on the teacher, I think. If you want and if you take the right steps, you can make FB a good learning tool.
A tip before I finish,
Staying active is quite important to keep the enthusiasm. If you- like I did ONLY FOR 1 DAY!- don’t post anything, you might get something from your students like this one here below 🙂