Articles describing the benefits of the use of Facebook in the classroom are becoming more and more prevalent, however the thought of this social media platform can still ring fear through the minds of many parents and teachers.
A study has shown that the average user of Facebook spends up to 700 minutes per month logged in (KISSmetrics, 2013), is it good to encourage students to spend even more time online?
Students that spend more time on Facebook than other people have been shown to have lower academic results. A study by Kirschner and Kaprinksi (2010) showed that Facebook users reported having lower GPA’s (Grade Point Averages) and spend fewer hours per week studying than non-Facebook users. Other studies have also led to suggestions that students who spent the most time using social media had fewer academic behaviours, such as completing homework and attending class, lower academic confidence and more problems affecting their school work, like lack of sleep and substance use (Carter, 2013). These studies may show a negative correlation between Facebook use and academic performance but could mainly be linked to a student’s ineffective time management.
The use of Facebook within the classroom and as a learning tool brings across some different concerns. While some studies suggest Facebook can encourage participation in learning, a lesson based around social media will have to be incredibly structured; the risk of losing students to the depths of Facebook is a worrying factor. Teachers will need constant eyes on their students to prevent them from becoming distracted, lesson plans will have to be carefully constructed to ensure the use of Facebook and other platforms are meeting the lessons aims (Osborne, 2012). A common complaint among educators is that social media is distracting in the classroom. Students see the use of Facebook in the classroom as a chance to joke around, disrupting the class.
Teachers who implement Facebook in the classroom will have to act with caution, the ‘groups’ created by the teachers as a discussion board to share information could become a space for cyberbullying. A study about cyberbullying showed that 22 percent of college students admitted to being harassed online (Macdonald, 2010). Students becoming distracted and joking in the classroom may see the opportunity to take harmless comments too far. As a result of this the shy students which are expected to excel on social media may feel threatened by unfriendly behaviour that could occur.
Facebook could have the possibility to be an important tool for connecting students with professionals; however it also may discourage face to face communication. Students connecting via Facebook and other social media platforms are missing out on the valuable lessons of real life social skills. Facebook provides an informal way of expressing oneself, which may prevent students from conducting themselves in a professional and coherent manner during university or job interviews. Communication over the internet is becoming widely used but it is important to not lose sight of the vital social skills that are learned in a non-technology classroom environment.
The use of Facebook in the classroom could come to be influential education tool, due to some of the e-safety risks the best use may arise to be in as higher education setting. To allow the most effective use to come through school and parents need to come together to recognise how social networking sites could be established in the classroom. Strategies need to be worked through with students so a full understanding of its use in the classroom is had by everyone to allow appropriate use. The negatives that arise from Facebook in the classroom need to be swiftly eradicated to allow Facebook to show its potential for a learning tool.
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Carter, D. (2013, April 17). Social Media has Negative Impact on Academic Performance. Retrieved December 24, 2013, from ecampusnews: http://www.ecampusnews.com/uncategorized/research-social-media-has-negative-impact-on-academic-performance/?
Kirschner, P. (2010). Facebook and Academic Performance. Computers in Human Behaviour, 1237 – 1245.
KISSmetrics. (2013). Facebook Statistics. Retrieved December 24, 2013, from KISSmetrics: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/facebook-statistics/
Macdonald, C. (2010). Cyberbullying Among College Students: Prevalence and Demographic Differences. Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences, 2003-2009.
Osborne, C. (2012, April 10). The Pros and Cons of Social Media Classrooms. Retrieved December 24, 2013, from ZDNet: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/the-pros-and-cons-of-social-media-classrooms/15132