I have only had a Facebook account for one month, but I don't see why we can't use that to connect with our students are. I asked my students if they had a Facebook account and every one of them did. I have not started using it yet, but I can see the benefits.

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I have facebook too although I havent done a lot with it apart from join hehehe!! I was thinking of asking some of my MEC students here in Brasil about signing up for facebook instead of Orkut, which is very popular here and full of viruses and problems. Are there any ESL teachers using Facebook for activities with their students and if so what kinds of activities are you guys doing with it?
Having students write Notes about what goes on in class and tagging their friends in it is a good way to get ESL students writing and enjoying writing.

Keep everything low stakes and social.
That's a really neat idea. I'm going to pass it on to a colleague. Thanks!
Hey Donnie, every instructor in America is having that experience right now.
Interesting article here about advantages to an organisation of using facebook rather than a custom site for social networking ... http://mashable.com/2008/06/05/social-media-strategy/
Teachers in Scotland have been advised to stay away from social networks with their children. This current news item seems to be issuing a caution rather than a blanket rule. Certainly teachers and students should be constantly aware of the risks. Connections between students has much potential for education, but like everything it could be abused through cyber bullying and predatory behaviour.

I have reservations about FaceBook for educational purposes. I think the distractions and pointless wanderings that are available are not helpful. There's too much advertising, too many invitations to send off pokes, videos, hugs... ad infinitum.

I think that for teachers' purposes it might be better setting up their own private discussion space, or international collaboration space using a Ning, which Classroom2.0 is built on. I'm about to start one next year with grade 5 children and am thinking that it will be a private space, at least in the early stages. This allows time for children to learn netiquette, while also proving to parents that educational social networking sites can be of value.
Leigh, grade 5 may be completly different. I have started using FaceBook since this discussion started and I am finding it very useful. However, I teach career and technology at the college level. I have found FaceBook to be the most effective way to stay connected with students, even after they graduate. Their easy to track and keep up with their work history. I don't get involved with the hugs and pokes applications, but I think FaceBook is great.
I teach a junior-senior social studies elective called Global Issues. We look at international issues of the past 10-20 years outside the US (we try to ignore the US to the extent possible). I bring in a lot of speakers [and we watch documentaries & sub-titled films], and many of them are from non-profits (NGOs) who are trying to create change in other places.

Two years ago I read an article about a Canadian college student who traveled to Burma & saw the monks protesting against the military dictatorship. When he returned he created a Facebook group supporting the monks' protest. Hundreds of thousands of people joined in a few months. This made me realize anybody could be an activist, at least on this level.

Since then I've been requiring students to take action to help an international NGO, alone or in groups. I encourage them to raise money but it might focus on recruiting their friends to support the NGO's facebook cause. Over the last 2 years students have recruited a couple thousand dollars, maybe 1-2000 facebook members, and gotten the word out to many people about the cause they adopted.

Facebook is not central to the course, but it is used by some for this specific project. If they already are on it and have friends, its a natural connection to recruiting those friends to support a cause. I have them befriend a special profile I set up for this purpose so that I can keep in touch with their efforts. It has worked pretty well.

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