Remember Facebook?

The Gist:

– Facebook is dying.

– Teachers are helping kill it.

– We need to respect public spaces.

– Content delivery on Facebook is like those people asking me to sign a petition in the park.

The Whole Deal:

Went with Tim Best to the Tech Forum Northeast conference last weekend to take part in a panel discussion of social networking applications in education. It was similar to our panel last year on the topic of wikis and google docs in education.
This year, though, we didn’t bring a slidedeck. In fact, we didn’t bring a single slide. Also, there were no handouts, no links, no wikis – nothing.

We were up after Peggy Sheehy from Ramapo Central School District in NY and Kristine Goldhawk and Cathy Swan from New Canaan, CT. (Here’s their preso.)
When it was our turn up, we diverged sharply from Sheehy, Goldhawk and Swan. In fact, we diverged sharply from the session title, “Social Networking in the Classroom: Tools for Teaching the Facebook Generation.”
Aside from a brief example of how I’d used twitter and adium to work with one of my students back at SLA during some guy‘s keynote address, we didn’t use any of the tools.
Instead, we asked what the room was thinking and what questions they had.
One of the participants mentioned using Facebook for course management. Goldhawk had said some of the teachers in her district were doing it, and this lady wanted to know more.
I answered with something I’d scribbled in my notes whilst listening to the other panelists, “We need to respect Facebook.” Actually, I started with, “Does anyone in here remember something called Myspace? Why hasn’t anyone in here mentioned it?” Someone in the crowd piped up, “Or Friendster?” (Aw, poor Friendster.)
Even if the prognostication of the NYT Magazine is wrong and ‘Book isn’t about to die, we need to respect it.
I say this knowing full well I designed a project last year using Facebook as the vehicle for the whole thing.
I wish I hadn’t.
The office at SLA has a conference room-style table at its heart. Though students are expected to give up their seats to faculty members, you can often find a mix of students and faculty at the table during lunch or before and after school. This is not the norm at most HS. The office is not a commons area in most HS. As a result, a slice of our faculty steer clear of the office and that table during lunch or before and after school.
It’s not that they don’t love our kids, it’s that they need a break from our kids. They need their space. They find it in their classrooms or our hidden faculty room.
As a result, I have less contact with those members of our faculty. Letting everyone in has meant that we’ve forced some of the people I’d most like to see out.
We’re doing this with Facebook when we choose it over creating a class ning or wiki or the like.
If my teachers had started trying to teach me to diagram sentences whilst I was hanging out in my clubhouse when I was a kid, I would have built a new clubhouse.

3 thoughts on “Remember Facebook?

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