Facebook, Social Media & Education

Posted by nicholaspelafas on August 2, 2011

Reading the New York Times, I came across a little news blurb about how Facebook was acquiring the e-book publisher Push Pop Press.  Normally, I avoid things having to do with Facebook, but I have been keeping an eye out for multiliteracy related stories, and I had actually already posted about Push Pop Press’s technology last week.

So why would Facebook buy an e-book publisher?  I really appreciated Push Pop’s approach because it came from an educational inspiration, and their first publication really reflected that.  The thought of Facebook diverting these talented software engineers from the education field to the ‘social networking’ field sort of made me sad.  The NYtimes article pushes some theories, but we don’t know the real motivation.

In an effort not to become more of a Facebook-hater than I already am (lol), I decided to do some searching on Facebook and Education.  Clearly, the role of Facebook in delivering multiliteracies to students (for educational purposes or not) is huge, and I was wondering if a) Facebook recognized this and b) what teachers were saying about it.

Facebook itself has a ‘Facebook in Education‘ page where teachers have posted links on how to use Facebook in the classroom, there are links to educational institutions on Facebook, and Facebook posts its own education related news.  Recently they have begun to offer grants for Digital Citizenship Research as well, which focuses on cyber-bullying but could also include citizenship education.  While the information on the Facebook page is clearly biased towards its positive uses, we must remember the purpose of Facebook is still ‘social networking’ not ‘educational networking’ or ‘knowledge networking’.

There are a number of sites and articles out there, however, that deal with the use of Facebook as a form of multiliteracy that may be used in the classroom.  This article in the London Standard advocates that teachers must join Facebook to teach their students how to use it.  I thought this was an interesting proposition because clearly Facebook represents a type of literacy, and not only could teachers teach students be proficient in it, but they could teach them to use critical thinking skills and develop ethical digital citizenship when using it.

As sad as it is that Facebook snatched up Push Pop Press with no stated education-related intentions, we can be happy and aware that there are also people working on social network-like platforms that are designed specifically for education.  These include,, and  What do these sites aim to do in relation to education?  Check out edmodo’s intro video:

One idea I do like, however, is integrating the use of Facebook with educational purposes, such that, over time, people may actually spend more of their time on Facebook productively (since we know they are going to be there anyway).  If we can re-purpose Facebook, the way it was re-purposed in North Africa and the Middle East for social mobilization, I wonder what would be the costs and/or benefits vs. utilizing newer social-networking like educational platforms?


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