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New Study Suggests a Place for Facebook in Education

New Study Suggests a Place for Facebook in Education

Facebook is typically seen as the bane of educators' existence—at least in the classroom. As tech initiatives often include one-to-one device plans, the importance of keeping students from succumbing to distraction from social media sites like Facebook continues to be highlighted.

But a recently released study suggests that Facebook and the classroom might be able to coexist, as it may have serious value as a learning tool.

"Spearheaded by Michigan State University’s Dr Christine Greenhow—‘one of the most social media-savvy professors in America’—the professor found that high school and university students engaged in energetic and intelligent debate, about scientific issues, in a voluntary Facebook forum," according to The Independent.

She says that Facebook might very well give educators an opportunity to spark students' interest and provide them with a niche community in addition to the formal curriculum of the classroom.

"For the study, students aged 16-25 voluntarily joined a Facebook group which dealt with climate-related science news – such as coal-burning regulations and environmentally friendly housing," the article said.

Because the forum was not monitored by an instructor, students were more engaged and created an on-topic, in-depth and sophisticated conversation about science topics.

"Past research into the topic has looked at online forums run by a teacher and found mixed results when it came to student engagement and the quality of debate taking place," and Facebook eliminates that issue as a more open forum for student communication.

Research has also indicated that excessive use of Facebook, like other social media tools, can lead to a serious distraction from studies, and Greenhow acknowledged this, saying that any social network site has the potential to be misused.

But, she insisted, "'There’s also a significant and underexplored opportunity to develop these spaces as forums for learning, healthy academic debate and career development,'" according to the article.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

07/02/2015

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