Facebook Groups For Math Classes?

February 18, 2010 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

Facebook or Twitter?

On the first day of class this semester, I asked my statistics students if they used Facebook or Twitter. I wanted to incorporate one of these sites into my course, and was trying to decide which one to use. I found that nearly all of my students had a Facebook account, but very few had a Twitter account. So, I decided to set up a group page for my statistics students.

Before setting up the group page, I wanted to make sure that they would not have access to my personal Facebook page. I told them that they would probably lower their respect for me if they saw my Facebook page. They assured me that I would respect them even less! Seriously, although I make a goal of breaking down the walls between students and their instructor, I don’t think it would be a good idea to cross this line. I’m on their side, and I’ll support their endeavors in any way that I can, but I feel there is a big difference between instructor and friend.

The Launch

I waited until the week before the first exam and opened the group page. I have a little over one-quarter of my students in the group. I posted the practice test questions on the group wall, and students came in and posted their answers. I let them know which were correct and which were incorrect. It was a nice way to get the group started.

Positive Outcomes

I had a student in my 10am class who posted that he was having trouble calculating standard deviation using the formula, as uploaded a scanned copy of his work. A student in my 8am class pointed out his error. This is where I feel the power of Facebook as an educational tool is at its greatest. I essentially have an easy to maintain message board where my students can help one another. (Would it surprise you that both students scored 100% on their exam?)

One student discovered that the text file I provided them was not pasting into StatCrunch as intended, and stated how her classmates could fix the situation. She helped her classmates avoid wasting their time working with flawed data. Since it was the first day of a 4-day weekend, this was an issue I could not address in class for quite some time.

Summary

Facebook provides me with an easy option for posting materials, classroom summaries, videos, and graphics that my students can use. It gives me an easy way to get messages to my students – from anywhere. All I need is Internet access from any computer.

As the semester continues on, I will share other ways I am using Facebook. I’ll also update on my students’ feelings towards it. If you have any pointers that you would like to share, or any questions you would like to ask, just leave me a comment or reach me through the contact page on my website. I would really like to hear from you if you are using Facebook (or Twitter) in your classes.

-George

I am a mathematics instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. I have decided to add technology related articles to my Thursday blog lineup. Let me know if there are other topics you’d like me to cover.

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