Teaching & Learning Foreign Languages

The CELT Athens Blog

Facebook as a Learning Management System

15 Comments

I was very happy to discover a research report on the potential of using Facebook as a learning management system.

Facebook popularity and the ease with which most teachers and learners can create an account these days was, after all, one of the reasons our aPLaNet project team decided to include Facebook as one of the three Social Networks which may help teacher with their professional development easily and with complete autonomy.

Teachers Using Facebook for Continuous Professional Development 

Here is a screenshot of a Facebook group created to continue Twitter conversations of #ELTchat, a Twitter discussion which takes place every Wednesday – you can read more about #ELTchat here  and here and should you decide to join this group on Facebook, you will find it here! 

#ELTchat – a group which is a learning community of ELT teachers 

There are numerous groups of teachers connecting on Facebook, beginning with major teacher associations such as IATEFL and TESOL International and moving to smaller, teacher created communities of practice with a general or a with a very focused aim, e.g. teaching Business English.

Teachers Using Facebook as a Learning Management System 

In the article which is listed and linked below this post, the researchers look at the benefits of and shortcomings of using Facebook as such a system.

I can give show you a couple of examples – screenshots of groups related to trainees of mine on Facebook.

Image

Open group for DELTA canditates around the world.

This group started out as a learning management system, but with many of its members having completed their courses, it soon became open to anyone following a DELTA course anywhere in the world. Its members share links, top tips for revision, and ask questions which range from the sublime “Could you please respond to my research questionnaire?” to the practical, e.g. “What time is the written exam tomorrow? I’ve forgotten!”

These days, it is functioning more as a Professional development tool for DELTA candidates.

Facebook as a Learning Management System 

In this use, the teacher creates a closed or even secret group (not found in Facebook searches) and uses it to

  • communicate socially after school hours
  • post announcements
  • upload or link to homework assignment
  • share ideas and useful links for further study
  • publishing exemplary work or
  • publishing work that all are invited to comment on
Image

Screenshot of closed Facebook group created by my DELTA trainees in the summer of 2010 and used expressly for internal communications.

Google docs links (for example of part of a draft assignment, as you can see above) are used to compensate for the lack of ability to share documents, powerpoints or pdf documents – this is mentioned in the research article, too.

My post was just a short introduction.

The article I have been talking about was posted in the British Journal of Educational Technology – please see details below.

Marisa Constantinides

CELT Athens

It’s freely available for reading on the web and I recommend it very highly!!!!

Marisa Constantinides

CELT Athens

Using the Facebook group as a learning management system: An exploratory study, Qiyun Wang1,*, Huay Lit Woo1, Choon Lang Quek1, Yuqin Yang1, Mei Liu2 – Article first published online: 9 JUN 2011
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01195  © 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Educational Technology © 2011 BERA

Author: Marisa Constantinides

I train TEFL teachers at CELT in Athens Greece and interact with educators from all over the world through Twitter and blogging

15 thoughts on “Facebook as a Learning Management System

  1. Very interesting, Marisa.

    I think Facebook certainly has a lot of potential for a variety of learning management tasks, but on one key front (evaluation and recording of grades) it is likely to pull up short compared to something like Moodle. I guess Google Docs could be tagged on to cater to this. Also, I wonder how well it caters to general user reports to show how often, for how long and for what purposes learners were engaging with the system. The privacy issue is another thing that concerns me: while we can control privacy settings I definitely have some very strong reservations about letting a company like Facebook ‘own’ my and my students’ professional learning space…

    What really intrigues me is how you’ve pointed out how a learning management system can morph over/into a follow up general professional development space. This makes it an exciting ‘open ended’ style of management system, I guess you could say.

    Got me thinking, you did!

    Cheers,

    – Jason

    • Hi Jason

      Well, I could only use my own examples – and rightly so. Anyone who has a closed student group would not allow an outsider in.

      I agree with you about the limitations of Facebook but not all courses are dealt with in the same way – grading for my courses, for example has to be done outside any learning management system and portfolios are still very much on paper. Once Cambridge (and the candidates, of course) move into the era of electronic portfolios, there will be a need for a moodle or mooodle like learning management system.

      But for a teacher and learners new to this whole field of LMS and SN, it ain’t a bad way of getting comfortable – their next stage, their graduation, as it were, might me a Moodle. You are an old Moodle hand but i speak from experience. I have only recently (about a year) started learning to write Moodle courses, though I graduated to that from pbworks and wikispaces wikis (and my own website before that.

      And it’s easier to integrate facebook into a wider social professional network, which the other LMS’s aren’t really good for.

      So may be Facebook can be a step or a part of a larger LMS framework

      Mine included the wiki for that specific group where all the rest of the work was getting done – but the course was face-to-face, not online, with real, physical portfolios

      Marisa

  2. Pingback: Facebook as a Learning Management System | Cool Tips & Tools for EFL Teachers | Scoop.it

  3. But it lacks reporting. Without that, this can’t be a real solution.

    • Oh, no question, Stephen, but it’s a great step forward for teachers not so well acquainted with other platforms – a nice and, relatively easy training ground. I think those who are so inclined, will eventually ‘graduate’ to systems that allow reporting and so on.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Marisa

  4. Internet has made the world much smaller and learning possible from everywhere. Has Facebook become our virtual ID? Anyway, a good teacher always finds a nice way to be connected. Here’s a link on how to use Facebook in class. Hope it’s useful for you all. http://www.slideshare.net/claudetteAZ/swcolt-2012-facebook-as-a-language-learning-tool-behnke

  5. Nice post Maria. Great example of the power of FB for professional development and community formation.

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  7. Hi Marisa,

    My question with a lot of social network communities is “where’s the beef?”. Meaning, there is no content and at the end of the day, this is central to any teaching – the learning and conversation and thinking all revolve around that.

    I don’t think you can upload anything beyond videos (very limited) and photos. Jason also raises the point about “being on task”. I’ve really changed the course of my own thinking regarding LMSs and its influenced what I’ve built on EnglishCentral. I used to think that social interaction was everything – now I’m very doubtful and see it is a very limited part of learning, self directed learning being my focus and how an LMS can help that. For the social, we should meet face to face or use skype or other conferencing tools.

    But as you say – there are a lot of different teaching environments and FB undoubtably can meet the needs of many of them. I’ve had a great time the last 2 years seeing our own government and administrators go from demonizing FB to now going too far and believing it a panacea. Oh, the folly of educational reform and the next big thing!

    • I do agree that Facebook is quite limited as an LMS – just arguing the case of it being a way of getting teachers and their learners into using a more familiar platform to begin with, ‘graduating’ into other platforms that do have more potential for a variety of tools and uses

      Many thanks for your comment, David

      Marisa

  8. What a great post Marisa. Please let me share it both with my colleagues and students to the Open University as many of them are Educators (of course by providing the source). You might give us a lecture once.

  9. Pingback: Facebook as a Learning Management System | Adapting the LMS for the socially motivated Generation Y | Scoop.it

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