Facebook As LMS?
Aug 17, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Interesting idea. Christy Tucker writes, "I've seen a lot of research about the value of creating a learning community, and I think using social networking could help create that community." Well and good. But are you going to manage learning in such an environment? And the main benefit, to Tucker, is that learning in Facebook would be collaborative. "Heck, it's even an improvement if we make sure that all our discussion board assignments actually encourage discussion and/or debate and aren't just used as galleries or bulletin boards where everyone posts a variation on the same ideas and talks past each other." Is this the benefit Facebook offers? Would this improve learning? No, I think that the answers are more subtle than that. Related: RSS feeds on Facebook, and has Facebook abandoned privacy?, both from Steve O'Hear. Total: 316
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Re: Facebook As LMS?

As to how we'd manage it--I haven't got a clue. This was a post that was definitely "thinking out loud" on my blog and trying to process the idea. There's a lot of conditional words in my post for a reason; I'm not sure yet.

Discussion board assignments that are actually discussions (not "Post your summary of this article and reply to two other people) I think do help people connect ideas. I do think there is value in giving people opportunities to learn from each other rather than expecting the teacher as expert to be the source of all knowledge.

I'm wrestling with the idea of how the LMS structures the learning and the power relationships between teacher and student. Would that relationship be different with a course created in Facebook than in Blackboard? I think it would (although I'm not sure). Do you see value in changing that relationship? Do you see value in peer connections and learning?

Would something like Facebook potentially be part of a choose-your-own-course-path like you wrote about on Half an Hour recently? (I'm thinking of the section starting "In a university environment, I fear, the best that can be done is to mitigate the disadvantages.")

One comment on your summary--I think you made it sound like I've made up my mind and come to conclusions. I haven't, and I apologize if I wasn't clear about that in my post. Trust me, I'm still learning and thinking about it, and I'm not convinced by any of it. And realistically, I'm in one of those university-type environments where my best hope is to "mitigate the disadvantages." [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Facebook As LMS?

Hi Stephen - haven't reviewed the post you cite, so this comment may be a bit redundant...however, I find that as educators we often conclude: "There's lots of people using [insert name of software] tool...I bet we can use it for teaching...". I can see the allure of this mindset - we are trying to be more learner centric. But learner-centric (a much abused term, used more for dressing up strategic planning documents than practical change) means giving learners the choice. Like blogging? use that. Live Journal? Ok. Facebook? Sure. We'll aggregate on our end, you post on your end.

But when I was 18 years old, I didn't want my instructors having access to the types of dialogue I was having in my social network. I suggest we allow learners their own spaces. If they want to pull us in, great. But just because they use it to socialize doesn't mean that we should use it to teach.

I'm speaking here simply on my own assumptions and experience. Obviously we need more research/dialogue on this. What do learners want? What is their criteria for selecting tools? Do they mind if their social networks blend with calculus, physics, and chemistry? Do they want their professor/teacher to see images of weekend festivities? Where do lines of behaviour and identity meet? Or do they cease to exist? The highest level of respect we can afford our learners is to involve them in the decisions we make about them.

Take care,
gsiemens [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Facebook As LMS?

i agree with that.life is so wired [Comment] [Permalink]

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