Thoughts on Facebook?

So I’m seeing more and more folks in the edublogoblahblah are down with Facebook. I’ve been considering signing up for an account myself, but I’m wondering if, as a married man in his thirties (OK, just starting his thirties), maybe I’m too past it for Facebook. I had a MySpace account for about 3 months back in 2002 or so, and I updated it maybe once or twice (I’ve since deleted it), so maybe there’s no real reason for me to sign up for another social networking site that I won’t use. My social life is pretty nonexistent any damn way.

But then I get to thinking: this past summer, I thought Twitter was the most ridiculous thing on the Web (besides maybe lolwut), and four months later, I’m way into it, connecting with folks from all over the world. Maybe I should give it a shot?

As I’m considering these weighty matters of profound global importance, as if by Providence, Vicki Davis starts tweeting about her experimentation with Facebook. I sent her the following tweet:

@coolcatteacher Can you explain appeal of Facebook in <140 chars plz?

Her response:

@garageflowers – WE all learn about networking in school, facebook is a massive network that allows you to connect with many who r lost!

I post to my own blog, read and respond on other blogs, and have a modest but high-quality network of teachers, bloggers, & tech enthusiasts with whom I correspond on Twitter. Is Facebook worth my while? Is there any additional networking value to it beyond what I describe, or is it just kind of fun (nothing wrong with that!)? What are your experiences with Facebook, either personal or professional? Will you friend me if I sign up?


  • Damian,
    I STILL don’t get the Twitter thing. I have answered the What are you doing? question a few times and nothing happens. What gives? Maybe you can explain it so it makes sense to me.

    (BTW – If you think 30 is getting old, try 45!)

  • @Dave – I found your Twitter profile, and have started following you. Not sure why you were able to update over the summer, but not now. Which browser are you using? Some of my students reported problems using Twitter with IE, though I don’t know why. Has anything changed in your browser (e.g., version) since the last time you successfully ‘tweeted’?

    Beyond the standard browser check, I’d contact Twitter’s help service – there’s no reason I can think of why you shouldn’t be able to update. Are you able to see the updates of those you follow?

  • I am using Firefox. I received an email that you are following me, but I can’t seem to find you on Twitter.

  • My username is garageflowers – if you click on “Followers” in your right side menu, you should get a list of people who are following you. Under each person’s name, it will either say “You are following so-and-so” or “Click here to follow so-and-so”.

    Or, just type “follow garageflowers” (without quotation marks) into the update box, and you’ll be set.

    I did see your latest update of a few minutes ago, so things seem to be working on your end – glad to see it!

  • I’ll be your FB friend. 🙂

    FB isn’t perfect, but I’ve found if anything, it gives voices to those that don’t blog, don’t twit and people you wouldn’t hear of normally. I’ve connected with loads of old friends, and many new. Give it a shot … what can you lose?

  • Hi Damian,

    I signed up for Facebook years ago (when only .edu accounts could do so). I thought that it was absolutely useless.

    I came back to my account a couple months ago and I have learned to appreciate it much more. I have connected with many old friends and family members. This alone, is the value of the service for me. This is something I couldn’t do years ago, because they weren’t in the system yet. Never underestimate buzz for reaching critical mass.

    So, for personal usage, it’s great.

    What about for educational use? It’s got potential, but I’m not sure how or if I would use it for my classes (EFL).

    There are many applications in Facebook and more being developed every day. There is a native discussion forum, as well as 3rd party forums, this is at least one wiki application, there is messaging, there is integration with Skype, and so forth. So, many of the common online educational tools are there, but so what? Why use Facebook when there are other, much better applications that can be used for these tools? I don’t have an answer to that.

    You can create groups in Facebook. This is where I see more potential, but little customization is available right now. There is less customization in group areas than there is for your profile. This means that none of the cool tools available for your profile or those being developed can be used in the groups area. The only benefits then for a group are: common photos, common videos, and common discussion forum.

    All-in-all, though, for classroom use (online or f2f) I’d say that there is little benefit in the direct use of Facebook. The power is still largely in the social networking capabilities and these aren’t very useful for a class (particularly when you can’t group your friends or focus updates to a particular group of people).

    Indirect uses would largely be as a convenient aggregator for classroom feeds (blog,, etc). You can use your Facebook profile to collect these feeds. While this is a terrible aggregator, it is at least a place were students are already going.

    Sorry for the long comment. Actually, I’m going to copy this and add it to my blog:)


  • I’m pretty much 100% with Dan on this. I had a Facebook account a couple of years ago, then totally forgot about it until I spent the summer in Scotland taking a course and hanging with undergrads and grad students. They’re ALL on Facebook, so I revisited it to stay in touch after getting back to the States.

    Now I’m hooked. I think of it as a super-aggregator. I can’t explain it, as it’s wicked early here, but it’s kind of fun.

    Also, there’s a great Scrabble app.

  • I’m still learning about facebook. Where I see the potential is in the global collaborative projects. We’re considering creating a facebook group to help the students connect. Our biggest struggle is in truly connecting the students and we have a ning to do that, however, I’ve had this feeling in the back of my head that we do all this talk about facebook/ myspace safety, etc. and that I was a hypocrite b/c I knew nothing.

    I always tell my students to make EDUCATED decisions about things, not uneducated decisions and here I was not willing to try something new!

    So, I’m learning and seeing what I think. The part I like thus far is in “finding” old friends and connecting with some of my cousins who are a little far off.

  • Feel free to friend me over at Facebook if you’d like. I signed up for an account a long time ago, but have done nothing with it since. You’ll be my first contact, maybe I’ll finally get somewhere with it this way. You can search for me by my email address.

  • Wow! Thanks for the responses. I bit the bullet and set up a profile this afternoon. As I’ve tried to find and add folks, I got to wondering – does there exist an “edublogger” network on Facebook? I haven’t been able to find one if it exists.

    @Alec, @Vicki, &@Ann – I’ve sent you all friend requests!

    @Jeff & @Dan – I’ll look you guys up later this evening. Jeff, thanks for the follow on Twitter – is that a sunburst-colored Fender Jazz bass? Looks like we have the exact same one.

    PS to @Jeff – I remember when 9:15 am was “wicked early”…those were the years BC (Before Children)

  • @Dan Thanks for the Twitter follow as well!

  • I, too, thought what’s the point of a married 30 year old guy having a Facebook or Myspace page? But I found that I really like having Facebook profile and that it’s not just for high school and college students.

    I use it to share pictures and home videos with my family and friends. My 78 year old grandfather even has a Facebook account and put up pictures he takes of his great-granddaughter (my daughter).
    I play Scrabble (using the Scrabulous app) with my friends. Plus, I’ve reacquainted with some old friends. I don’t need to get back in touch with old high school and college acquaintances but it’s neat to see what people from your past are up to.

    I would happy to be your “friend.”

  • @David R – Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! I looked for you on Facebook, but couldn’t find your profile. If you get a chance, send me a request and I’ll gladly friend you back. Thanks!

  • damian – lots of thoughts on facebook. i avoided getting one when it opened at my uni back in 2004, it was too much “hype” to me and i was graduating so why join something that will keep me in college?

    but now it’s really gone way beyond critical mass, to steal and recombine terms from above, it’s a social aggregator of a high power. every week an old friend or two somehow finds me and adds me on. one recent annoyance is the major spam that i get when people send me invites to play silly facebook apps.

    for classroom use, however…well the only time i use facebook in the classroom is to warn my students when they post things that aren’t too positive about school. there’s a facebook group of kids at my school, and i got the admin of it to make it only visible to members…that way if they want to bitch about teachers it’s just as private as an msn convo.

    OH. and. LEARN TO USE LIMITED PROFILE. about half of my “friends” are (ex)students, and after 9 out of 10 wall posts were from them i added them all to the limited list. i am a person with a social life as well as a teacher, and i have enough inane conversations @ school or on msn with children.

    parting shot:

    ning is the site to look to for classroom use. i haven’t gotten anything going there myself, because the site is blocked by my school’s filter (think that there are lots of not-so-proper sites pages there, or maybe it’s the ads that are sketchy), but combines a lot of great tools out there to give you lots of control over how the information goes out.

  • @Jeff Thanks for your insights here, Jeff (and for the friend hookup). Yeah, the hype turned me off, too, but esp. in light of my misgivings about Twitter, I thought I’d give this a shot. In the last 48 hours, I’ve hooked up with other edubloggers (expected), but also a few “long lost” friends from undergrad – completely unexpectedly!

    I can’t see myself doing anything with my students on Facebook or Myspace (or even Ning, for that matter). These virtual communities are great when time or distance separates members, but for high school students who see each other for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, I don’t know (barring special projects, of course). I’m seeing this firsthand as my attempts to use Twitter in an educational context are spiraling down the drain (that’s another post altogether).

    Ning is likely blocked at your school because although you can create the “walled garden”, I’ve heard that other, less school-appropriate Nings can link to yours and transfer content that way. Fuzzy on the details, but seems to make sense.

    I won’t be accepting friend requests from students any time soon (I think most of mine are on MySpace, anyway), but yeah, that Limited Profile option is a nice one. I played around with it, but don’t have the need to implement it yet.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write this up here, and for being among the first to welcome me to Facebook!

  • Some things, like, oh, references to Dazed and Confused, don’t really need to be included in our teaching.

    We automatically diminish the ‘joy’ of the item once we (teachers) start referencing it.

    I’m just not sold (do I need to be?) on the, say it with me now…’value’ of Facebook in education.

    Can anyone point me to a strong educational Ning? One for students and integrated into a class?

    Oh…and 15 comments…and from, you know, the ‘big uns’…wow!

  • […] blog: Why loosely coupled, freely available third party systems can be better from Pontydysgu Thoughts on Facebook from Apace of […]

  • Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but, I fail to see the professional dimensions of Facebook for me at this stage of my life and career. And, precisely because it is dominated by students, many of them my own, I am not sure that I want that much blending of my world with theirs in my off time. I have my blog and my other outlets, and will allow those to suffice for the time being.

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