Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Should Facebook be banned from Educational Institutes?

I received the following email today from a colleague:

Hi Everyone

I have been asked to do some research about the site www.facebook.com as I understand it is currently blocked. I would like to seek the practitioners network views on the need for such a site to be unblocked. I believe the argument is so lecturers can have access to this site so they can communicate with students while studying off campus.

The questions that I would like a response to are?

1. What are the other educational uses of such a site?
2. Is this the best way to communicate with students who are studying off campus or are there better and more effective tools?
3. Your comments to the review below?

Facebook, an online facebook and social network service, is increasingly being used by school administrations and law enforcement agencies as a source of evidence against student users. The site, a popular online destination for college students, allows users to create profile pages with personal details. These pages can be viewed by other registered users from the same school which often include resident assistants and campus police who have signed-up for the service. Recent disciplinary actions against students based on information made available on Facebook has spurred debate over the legality and ethics of school administrators' harvesting such information. Facebook's Terms of Use specify that "the website is available for your personal, noncommercial use only," misleading some to believe that college administrators and police may not use the site for conducting investigations. However, Facebook spokes people have made clear that Facebook is a public forum and all information published on the site should be presumed available to the general public, school administrators included. Legal experts agree that public information sources such as Facebook can be legally used in criminal or other investigations.

Many thanks for your time on this.

And here is my response:


1. What are the other educational uses of such a site?

Social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook allow people to share information and create 'interest groups'.

SNS allow staff and students to 'network' with people beyond their local environment and their local time zone.

SNS are important to help our staff and students to learn how to 'communicate' in an online environment.

SNS allow students to create online 'portfolios' - which they can use to store their 'resume' and evidence of their work and what they are capable of. This can help them when applying for jobs or further education/training or applying for Recognition of Prior Learning/Skills Recognition.

2. Is this the best way to communicate with students who are studying off campus or are there better and more effective tools?

SNS are one of the many ways people are now communicating and sharing ideas and information. Whether it is the most effective could only be determined by the way it was being used. Ie if a class had a 'group' page - this would be a very effective way of communicating easily with a lot of people.

When people are 'friends' or 'follow' each other - it is very easy to monitor the progress of what others are doing. This allows you share and use what your 'friends' have already discovered or developed.

Depending on the need, the class could also 'invite' or include others (ie experts in an area) to contribute to their learning.

SNS also provide an excellent platform for collaborative learning.

3. Your comments to the review (below)?

We need to teach people about SNet-iquette (Social Network ettiquette), and the positive and negative effects of their online 'behaviour', and how they are creating an online 'digital foot print'.

I believe educational institutes should be 'leading the way' in educating people about these things. Therefore, by encouraging staff and students to use these sites as educational tools, we are encouraging the conversations necessary for people to work out what is, and what is not, appropriate in an online environment.


SNS are new to a lot of Lecturers and Administrators, as they might not necessarily use these sites themselves - so we should be providing them with some Professional Development - so they can lead their students into making the best decisions about how to use these sites.

I'm so pleased that this type of 'research' is starting to take place in educational institutions - let's hope the benefits of SNSs far out way the negatives - to allow sites like Facebook to be openly available.

1 comment:

star1 said...

social networking sites such as face book allows the students to communicate with others very easily .But using face book we have some problems . in face book our personal details are visible to others who are added to our list this may create problem


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