Saturday, March 17, 2012

About face

So, says my friend, the end is in sight,
You need to assess all your work, if you might.
Let's start with Facebook, what do you think?
Will you keep it or is it bound to shrink?

As my Web 2.0 explorations draw to a close, I feel it is necessary to go back and visit each tool, seeing what I have learned and where I will go from here.

Before beginning my inquiry, I did not have a Facebook account. In fact, I actively avoided signing up for Facebook, based on various things I had heard about it - ranging from the time consuming aspect of it to privacy concerns about it.

After investigating the privacy concerns and learning how my personal privacy settings could be set to control who sees what, I am much more comfortable with Facebook. In terms of eating up my time, I do find that it is one more thing that I "need to check" when sitting down at my computer, several times a day - in addition to my two email accounts, Twitter and Google Reader. However, with my Facebook feed going into my TweetDeck, I find I only need to open up Facebook once unless I spot something I want to investigate further.

So, yes, I will continue to use Facebook. Personally, it allows me to connect with friends that I don't necessarily talk to or see very often. It gives me a taste of what is going on in their lives. It is nice to be able to share a photo and have everyone see it and give a comment. It also lets me connect with groups that I am involved with so that I am up to date.

Professionally, Facebook can also be used by teacher-librarians to connect with their personal learning networks. Buffy Hamilton, the Unquiet Librarian suggests using Facebook to connect with likeminded colleagues in Start Social Networking with Libraries and Librarians @ Facebook. She suggests some groups/organizations to "fan" as well as some groups to join to keep up to date on what is happening in the library world. Although I can see the value in this, right now, I am going to keep Facebook a personal foray and keep my PLN connections through Google Reader and Twitter.

Will Richardson (2010) suggests that the "key" to Facebook "for educators is to move beyond the friendship-based connections and really explore the potentials of the networked, interest-based learning that's possible" (p. 132). Facebook "has become an important online space in our kids lives" (p. 133) and, for the most part, no one is teaching them how to navigate it safely. Right now, I am at an elementary school. Since students must be 13 years old to sign up for Facebook, it is not possible to use it as a learning tool. However, I do believe that general discussions around internet safety and digital footprints need to begin in elementary school. In the event that I re-enter the world of secondary school, I can see some direct uses for Facebook in the classroom including creating private groups for discussion (Richardson, 2010) or creating Facebook pages for characters in books or history (What Would Romeo's Facebook Page Look Like). In fact, here are

So, the final word? I will keep using Facebook personally and will look to use it the classroom if I end up in secondary education in the future.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

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