As I promised, here’s an update to my sense of using Facebook (FB) as a course management (CMS) tool. If you don’t know it, in 2007, it appears that FB dropped development of its course management system leaving it to outside developers to improve its functionality and add features. The results in my opinion at this time are mixed.
Teachers or really anyone can add a course in Facebook. Of course, you must have a FB account in order to do so. Your students MUST also be invited to join the class though you could certainly leave it open to the world… Teachers or owners of the class can post assignments, links to other website, post announcements, and even have non-threaded
But unlike other course managment systems, content does not roll over necessarily from one term to the next. This means a teacher would have to complete a pre-course setup each and every term for each course she’s teaching in FB. It appears you can’t even reset dates for assignments in current term if the due date has already arrived. Only UPcoming assignments are visible on the main class/course page though students can search for past assignments. You would have to recreate an assignment if you wanted to change it.
Next, something that teachers generally take for granted is student enrollment. Students are not automatically added to a course. You have to invite them which means they have to have a Facebook account. So plan on helping at least a few of them navigate their way particularly when it comes to restricting who sees what in their profiles. And let’s face
it, most teachers don’t want to be the technical HELP DESK for students when it comes to application support.
My sense is that FB may be more designed for teachers who are adding course materials and activities on the fly. It may still be more suited for social or student activities such as keeping track of former students. I’ll continue to keep an eye on its development but wonder about its viability compared to other CMS. There have a lot of folks reviewing FB as
a teaching tool like Professor Nicole Ellison at Michigan State University-
http://nellison.blogspot.com/2007/12/ecar-facebook-as-teaching-tool.html. Here’s an older review of FB she wrote. It’s a bit dated but still relevant as some of the same issues she raised still exist.
Meanwhile, I’m gonna take a different approach here to see if students are using FB for academic classes in an umprompted manner, i.e., setting up their own informal structures to share course materials, study for classes, set up tutoring sessions, etc. There may be more to it than the obvious. And like before, as I find more, I’ll post it here.
Facebook help link is http://en-gb.facebook.com/help.php