Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Won't Teach Facebook in Class

Facebook has become an educational pain in the butt. There are lots of good arguments about why students should be educated about it, especially the privacy issues that keep cropping up. Still, I won't teach it.

The first reason,  Facebook is blocked at my school. I have no opportunity to leverage it as a learning tool. I can't even use it to promote the work our students create there.

I find very little usefulness for myself in Facebook. It isn't that I am less social than others that are online, I just use other tools like Twitter. Therefor, it would take a lot of my time to learn how to not only use it fully, but to know how to make it private.

The last reason is what convinced me to not teach Facebook. I am not the parent of my students. I am tired of being the social site police for my school. Parents need to take responsibility for their own children when they are online at home.

I will still teach digital citizenship at school, but I am done with Facebook.


Ellyn Schaffner said...

Thanks for this post - it draws me to many places of thought but not a definitive place to rest and stay. Having taught mostly 5 and 6 year olds, I too wish that families would assist me in teaching some skills at home like how to tie shoes, how to zip a zipper or how to say sorry when one is - but the thing is... those things are out of my control. And even though they are important to me, maybe they are not important to them. It is not for me to judge someone else in how they prioritize their ideas, values, beliefs but to assist with ones that will help with the greater good of individuals in our society and so I teach them openly with care and hope.
(As a parent I regularly have my own teens show me their fb wall, show me their security settings and I guide them with online behaviour. In the end it will be their choice how they behave. Just because this is my priority, doesn't make it right just my priority. Frustrating though? Yup.) What if a student asks you about FB and its settings, purpose etc.?

Wm Chamberlain said...

Ellyn, for me it is an issue of an inaccessible tool that I don't need to spend time on. Teaching digital citizenship is still very important, not just on Facebook either.

When I have questions I answer them to the best of my ability. I do have a lot of people use me as a guide at school since I have that reputation. When it comes to Facebook I'm not much of a sage so I'm not very helpful there.

Cory said...

If you had left this post at the first point you made, about Facebook being blocked at your school and therefore inaccessible to you as a teacher, I would have agreed and moved on.

But there are a wide variety of skills and concepts that teachers pass along to their students that we shouldn't HAVE to teach, because in an ideal world they would have Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver at home to teach them. I'm certain you've come across a time when you can't simply rely on your students' families to prepare them for a safe and functional life.

If you're in middle school or high school, I bet you could easily assume that 75% of them are online with a profile on Facebook. If you knew that 75% of your classmates were struggling with long division, you'd focus on long division. If you knew that 75% of your students went home and had no access to a computer, you wouldn't assign a typed paper to be due the next day, or you might arrange for the necessary tech to be brought to your classroom.

My point is, simply saying that you don't see its usefulness and you don't want to be the one who teaches an element of digital citizenship is missing the point. I don't find most higher-level math to be useful or easy to learn/teach, but if I were a math teacher in high school, I wouldn't leave it out of my lesson plans.

You don't even have to use Facebook yourself, as they've drafted up a nice set of resources for educators who wish to pass along some safety and privacy concerns to their students (

Wm Chamberlain said...

Cory, why teach a tool that has no relevance inside the classroom and very little learning potential? School is about teaching students how to learn and not how to use the latest social site.

I still will teach the tools that will help them on these sites: ditigal citizenship and creating a positive digital footprint.

Cory said...

But Facebook is a critical use of those tools. No amount of work shared online to demonstrate a "positive digital footprint" is going to matter if in high school or college, your students don't see anything wrong with posting their drunken antics all over a public profile. You only need to read a few stories of cyber bullying happening on Facebook to understand that digital citizenship is necessary in the largest town square on the Internet.

Again, I agree that Facebook is not some magical fount of learning, and you certainly don't need to carve out hours of your day for Facebook tutorials. But if your students have questions or an issue creeps up regarding Facebook, I think there is value in knowing how to help them, or at least having somewhere to send them for help.

NZWaikato said...

Im not a Facebook Fan, I don't have an account set up. Can I ask, does your school have a policy on whether the teachers can be Friends of Students on Facebook?

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Myles No policy in place. Some teachers do and some don't. I mostly find it a waste of my time to be on there.