Facebook and Education: Really ?

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Internet is a fantastic tool. It gives access to any kind of information: videos, maps, books, etc. In this sense, Internet is a plus for education, because it benefits students as well as teachers, I recognize that. Many people ague that Facebook can be an important educational tool when it is used properly. Certainly, it can be a good tool. However, when I use my good sense it tell me that Facebook in education in general are not meant to be together. What is expressed here is an opinion and has no goal to convince you that Facebook is ”evil”. As a future English teacher, I was asked to take position regarding the use of Facebook in education, so here is my point:

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Cyberbullying
Mark Connolly, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thinks that Facebook and social media in general encourages students to “engage with each other” and to share their creativity. In the contrary, I personally think that Facebook makes it easier for bullies to intimidate other students. Intimidation is a big issue and Facebook is an open door to it because literally everyone over 13 years-old can subscribe and add friends. This issue of “cyberbulllying” has also been by raised Jeffrey Fouts, from the Syracuse University but the matter is up to date with Quebec reality. For bullies in schools, any way to persecute another student will be a good way. Even if two people are not friends on Facebook, it is possible to send messages to anyone. I think it is too easy to contact other people on Facebook and, therefore, for bullies to bully other students. The blocking option is usefull of course, but the use of it often happens after the bad is done. You may also want to know that Facebook as a webpage for educators and teenage regarding the issue of bullying.

Distraction

Another issue that I see is the fact that Facebook can be endlessly distracting in class. According to Statistic Brain website, people spend an average of 18 minutes every time they connect to Facebook. Even if the teacher gives clear instructions according to the work that must be done, students have access to funny photographs, groups, games and discussions with their friends. Not only does Facebook momentarily distract students from their tasks or their teachers, but it seems, according to Connolly again that long term the use of Facebook could lead to degradation of concentration capacity. Students already have a number of ways to distract themselves in classrooms. I believe that if I use Facebook with my future classes I will literally shoot my self in the foot… Others will certainly argue that it is very useful to share documents and stuff, but most schools now have their own portals and websites created specifically for the purpose of sharing documents, handing in homework, etc.

Privacy
Finally, the issue of privacy here is significant too, because Facebook asks its users to share a certain number of private and personal information. Teacher cannot oblige students to use Facebook if they do not want to share their information with their classmates or the teacher. Using Facebook to share documents and as an educational tool can be problematic in this case. An option allowing anonymity would certainly would be a plus and not only with regard to privacy but also with regard to the “cyberbullying” issue. Knowing that Facebook counts over 1,310,000,000 monthly active users and over 81,000,000 fake accounts, it is not hard to understand that privacy is an issue.

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There are other reasons why I think Facebook should not be used in an educational context. For example, Facebook is clearly addictive. I’m the older sister of a 16-year old teenager, and I find that it is hard to have a conversation with her because she is always on Facebook with her cellphone. Do you really want your students to act like zombies because their brain is addicted to be constantly bombarded with news and pictures on Facebook ?… I don’t. I want my students to be interested and motivated when I talk with them !

Also, Facebook is one of the number one cause of procrastination for students. Unfortunatelly, I am not an exception to this rule. When working on my laptop, I often take “5-minute breaks” that turn out to become half hour breaks because I go on Facebook and forget about time because I was too concentrated looking at the updates on my newsfeed… In this regard, it is my problem, but this kind of problem does not have its place in a classroom. Students have plenty of time to do want they want at home.

There are no magic educational tools and Facebook has certainly advantages as a tool for teaching too. However, I personally judge that Facebook (or any other social networks) and school must be separated.

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