Author(s): Merja Bauters
Affiliation(s): Metropolia UAS, Finland
Date of publication: April 7, 2016
The Educational Problem
In some cases, a course, group or team needs to have a space that is not institution based. To find a platform that allows creating a space for people, share documents, have a video-call possibility and chat messaging as well as possibility to create events is a challenge. Especially since everything should be easy to create and use. There exist many educational platforms that also have all the mentioned features, such Moodle, wikis, intranet solutions of the institute and so on. The problem with these existing educational platforms is that they have too many features and functions, they often strongly separate the teacher and the students, the platforms have integrated evaluation patterns, and mostly they are annoying to use and do not support flexible cooperation and collaboration aims.
Facebook can be one solution. Nearly everyone has an account so extra registration actions are not needed. It is easy to create a group that can represent course, group or team space depending on the needs. There is a possibility to shared documents, videos or images as materials for discussion on the wall or online through the chat. The recent addition in Facebook is a video call possibility. There is no ready made and forced hierarchy, so all participants can act as equals in the space. The created space can be made closed so the members do not have to mix their learning activities with other ways of using Facebook; for instance, leisure communication.
Facebook use seems to be best suited in courses that do not have more than 20 members. When the number of members grows, the commenting and discussion on documents (images, videos or textual) becomes unorganized and messy. Groups in Facebook work best when practices are varying for the members but all contribute to the shared aim. This can be a project, organization of an event, taking part in a workshop or creating a workshop. In these cases, sharing the documented event with images, videos and other material provides everyone a possibility to be in the same page and allows constructive commenting. When planning an event, there also is a joint aim, and materials produced to reach the aim provides structure to the activities and discussions. Often in these kinds of planning events, ad hoc chatting and video calls are needed; Facebook offers an easy way to join these kind of online meeting needs.