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Facebook groups: A great way to build language and literacy

Allison MillerAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Today Allison teaches us how you can use Facebook to build student language and literacy skills.

A Facebook group provides a great place to build students’ language and literacy through a blended methodology. This is done by posting information / images / videos and getting students into the Facebook Group where they can interact with it. This model involves class discussions about the topic, which helps students build their understanding, and then having students write replies to posts which allows them to build their language and literacy.

Here are the steps on how to do this.

Getting started

  1. Set up the Facebook group

Set up the Facebook group as an ‘Open Group’ and invite students to be members.  Once all students have joined the group, change the group settings to make it a ‘secret’ group. This way any interactions the student have in the group will not show up on their Facebook timeline or be found by anyone outside of the group.

  1. Lay down the guidelines

Students use Facebook a lot, but that doesn’t mean that they have very good online etiquette (or netiquette). So ensure you have a discussion with your students about what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t when using the Facebook group. Summarise these and put them in the ‘Description’ of the Facebook group as a reminder to everyone.

  1. Make your first post

Now make your first post which introduces you to the group and ask your students to do the same eg Hi – I’m Allison – the Facilitator for the “Deliver a service to customers” training program. I live in Adelaide. Please introduce yourself.

  1. Start the training

Make the next post about training such as finding a video online about your topic. Then add the link to the video and write something appropriate to generate an in class discussion, eg What is customer service? View this video and think about what customer service is.

The students then watch the video individually.  This allows students to replay the video if they need more time to understand the content. Students are encouraged to write their own notes.

Then as a group, discuss the video and the question. Throughout this discussion, write the students’ responses on the whiteboard and have the students type the group’s work as their reply to this post. For those students who are a little more confident with their writing, encourage them to type the summary of responses in their own words.

  1. Rinse and repeat

Now put up the next post while the students are writing their replies to the above post.

As Facebook is quite visual, consider things like:

  • Saving each of your PowerPoint slides as a ‘JPG’ format and uploading each one as an image as individual posts. This way the students will have ongoing access to the course content from their Facebook account
  • Getting the students to find relevant online images and video, then getting them to post these as a reply with an explanation of why they chose the image/video and how it relates to the topic
  • Getting the students to work in groups to brainstorm their ideas/responses on butchers paper and then getting them to take a photo and uploading the photo to the group

You can even upload workbooks or PDF files which students can download.

Consider all of the facts

While Facebook group offers many great features to build students’ language and literacy skills, there are some things you need to consider all of the facts:

Pros Cons
A lot of students are already a Facebook user

Evidence of student learning is in one place

Students can easily edit their posts

Students can access the information as long as they’re a member of the group

The approach allows you to ‘chunk’ up the training

Those students who finish their post quickly can ‘surf’ the net

You cannot make students join Facebook due to privacy reasons

You will need a classroom with internet connected computers and headsets

Students need to remember their Facebook login and password

Students may not feel comfortable about having their work seen by everyone

There are alternatives

If you cannot access Facebook at your organisation or you prefer not to use it, consider Yammer or Edmodo, which are very similar to Facebook, but without the ads, and with more control of content and privacy.

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