There is a great deal of research about the incorporation of Facebook in your LMS as part of blended learning. Many researchers have explored whether the social media giant increases learner engagement.
But what are the pitfalls in hooking into this global system? Is your data safe? Do you run the risk of derailing your courseware in a never ending loop of social commentary? Or can Facebook be used as a form of disciplined communication to increase collaboration?
Generally, there is consensus that Facebook can engage learners because it is so accessible and so many people use it. But can Facebook handle learning objects? Or can it be tamed as a plug-in only for communication?
Here’s a story that can help you make up your own mind. It comes from an instructor from Saybrook University in Oakland, California who wanted to make his online learning more engaging through the use of Facebook. The school’s online courses had one-on-one contact between instructors and students, but the author wanted to experiment with a social platform that provided a “forum for many participants.”
So Facebook was used as the LMS.
The results were mixed, as can be expected. The major student criticism was the lack of a syllabus and a structured learning sequence with clearly defined discussion topics. On the faculty side, the Facebook “LMS” required a lot more work, particularly when it came to reading student posts and blogs. Administrators who were monitoring the experiment said there was a lack of academic rigor in the use of Facebook. The dialog was too casual for their tastes.
On the plus side of the equation, there was an increased collaboration between students and instructors, who in effect, became co-learners. Social interaction guided the dynamic way the courses evolved. This democratization of the learning process was something of a new insight when this experiment was initiated in 2013.
In this experiment, Facebook was not used as a traditional LMS, where grades and reporting were part of the course requirements or functionality. Data security was not an issue in this experiment.
Clearly a social media component to a more structured LMS is the way to go.
As a Totara partner, MyLearningSpace can help you integrate the “Facebook” functionality in your online learning environment using the Totara social media tools.