Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Facebook and students - who should speak?

Well, I'm back from my summer holidays now, and getting ready for the start of the new year. It's great to see that the Facebook group for the new Freshers joining the School of English is going well. I'm waiting to see if we can get it up to 50 members by the start of induction - it's nearly there!

The group seems to be doing it's job - the new students are writing away on the wall introducing themselves and asking questions. So if you're joining us and you haven't signed up for it yet - please do! From my point of view, I think the group is doing what I wanted it to. I am increasingly convinced that Facebook in academic contexts really is for the students to use as a 'hang out' social space, not really as a forum for academic discussion. Of course, that doesn't mean that students can't talk about their studies (it is (nearly) always great when they do) - it's just that the kinds of discussions I think should be generated by them and based on what they find important. I see my role as a 'gatekeeper', watching out for inappropriate content and so on, hopefully seeding the conversation from time to time with questions. But if you are a student reading this, what do you think? Would you want your lecturers talking to you on Facebook? And if you do - what would you want to be talking about?

I'm going to keep using Facebook for sure though - certainly as a way of keeping in touch with my personal tutees. And we'll have to evaluate what the freshers thought of the group when they get to induction!