I’ve had the privilege of teaching full-time at the college level since 1995. Over the past few years, I’ve been encouraging each new class of students to start up a Facebook group. Even with multiple years in our programs, each year will create their own group. It has been a valuable resource and I thought I’d share five reasons why.
5. Connects the class in a fun way. A vast majority of college students already have a Facebook account and most of them enjoy it. Having a Facebook group allows a fun and familiar way for them to connect.
4. Builds relationships within the class. When students first come to college, it can be difficult as many are away from home for the first time. Building a group with classmates allows them to connect on a different level. This can help students who are feeling a little home sick by growing closer together.
3. Share notes. During class, we provide a lot of information. However, students will often find other information and share these resources with others in the class. The Facebook group is a natural respository for this information.
2. Ask questions and seek help. It is common for some people in the class just to fire off a quick question to the class. For example, one student in December wanted to know when the first day of class is in January. As I’m part of the group I’m able to respond quickly with the right answer. I also told them to check their email as this information was sent out. It is also common to see students put content related questions out to the group. One person was asking for help with editing a paper and offered to edit other people’s papers.
1. Efficiency in communicating. Students MAY check email once a day (see point 2 above). However they check Facebook five or six times a day. I can get in touch with a student faster by Facebook than I can with email. Also, if I want to get a message out to the entire class I can use the Facebook group. For example, an instructor who lives out of town couldn’t make it in for class because of the bad weather. First thing I did was write a message to the Facebook group and told them to pass the word around. This works much faster than sending out a group email as many students don’t take the time to fire up their home computers to check email before leaving for school. Most of the class have Facebook alerts sent to their mobile devices. Only a few have emails sent to their phones.
There are many other reasons for having a Facebook group for your class but these are the ones that seem to come to the top of the list. Do you have other thoughts on why each class should (or shouldn’t) have a Facebook group? Is there something better out there?