Facebook in Education

FaceBook now supports teacher's who want to set up a page, as opposed to a group, through which to connect with students. The difference between a group and a page is subtle but significant. A class page, as opposed to a group, permits a separate identity, such as "Mr. Jones' Ninth Grade Class" with a separate list of friends (termed fans for a page) from Mr. Jones' personal page. This helps separate family, friends, and students for a teacher. This is, as far as I know, a new capability. Up until about a year ago pages were reserved to people, and then to businesses for a price. Now anyone can start a page - which as noted operates differently than a group.

Buried in FaceBook is their own page on FaceBook in Education which attempts to track educational uses of FaceBook.

As a potential academic platform, FaceBook is maturing and gradually gaining new capabilities. Some of the pieces towards becoming an education platform are already in place. Presentations can be embedded into FB space using SlideShare. SlideShare is a FaceBook app with origins in an independent SlideShare.net web site. SlideShare can import Microsoft PowerPoint and apparently also OpenOffice.org Impress presentations.

File and document sharing is already possible using the My Documents application. Chat is already in place, one of the missing pieces is an online white board, but hints of that technology are already visible in the Visionboard application.

Community colleges have long specialized in bring college to where the student lives, as opposed to state universities that make the student come to the school. Our students already "live" in social media space. I expect that community colleges will probably be in the lead on finding ways to use social media to bring learning to their students.

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