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The Educational Value of Facebook

The Educational Value of Facebook
| Staff

Are you one of the billion users who enjoys posting or viewing status updates, pictures or articles on Facebook? While Facebook and other social media sites have often been viewed as a distraction in the workplace and classroom, a first-of-its-kind study shows the educational value of these forums that can help students learn scientific literacy and other complex subjects.

Conducted by Michigan State University’s Christine Greenhow, the study found high school and college students engage in vigorous, intelligent debates about scientific issues when using voluntary forums. The study was composed of 16-25 students who voluntarily joined a Facebook app that dealt with climate and related science news such as coal-burning regulations and environmentally friendly housing. After analyzing the student’s activity on the app, Greenhow found that their discussions on various science issues were on-topic, civil and sophisticated. The findings contradict previous studies which supported critics’ theories that excessive social media use distracted kids from academics, spurred loneliness and depression, and facilitated cyberbullying.

“One of the things we struggle with as educators is how to take students’ spark of interest in something and develop it in ways that can serve them,” said Greenhow, assistant professor of educational psychology and educational technology. “If students had these kinds of niche communities to be part of, in addition to their formal curriculum, that could really provide a rich environment for them.” These finding make a case for the use of social media outlets as learning tools: They provide a huge push to integrate new technology into classrooms and should spur more consideration to this informal online learning that occurs in students’ natural environments.

Would you use a Facebook app that allowed you and your classmates to debate educational material? Do you think Facebook is more of a distraction to students than educational tool?

Comments (3)
Sandra C 11/30/2015
Facebook has been nothing but trouble for me. All I see on Facebook nowadays is drama and people wanting to start trouble. I have to admit I haven't been an angle child on Facebook but I feel like I'm better off without all the drama. But this information you have used I seem to agree with.
Lesa M. 7/5/2015
I've found Facebook to be more educational than negative or distracting. Because of Facebook, people read more about World & local news, recipes, foreclosure help, research studies etc. I can go on and on about the benefits. I've found out about scholarships through Facebook as well. With everything, it has it's pros and cons, but it's what each individual make of it.
Alyssa P. 7/2/2015
Nowadays when my generation hears the word Facebook, there's an immediate negative thought. As technology is evolving and the way us students are learning, teachers are now tapping into different and the newest technology to come across to us. Now that Twitter has been around for sometime and my teachers are starting to learn how to use it, Twitter has become a way for teachers to engage with us. Facebook, at least with my teachers, has always been a no. I personally would not use a Facebook app to have a debate. As new and improved apps and websites are coming about for educational purposes, using Facebook seems like it is trying to tap into a field it is not designed for. With my generation growing up with Facebook and seen all that it has gone through, the popularity of it has significantly gone down and is rising with my parents generation. As Twitter is now a prominent tool for both inside the classroom and outside the classroom, I do not believe Facebook will help me to learn due to it being a distraction for me and my peers.
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