Could Facebook Become an Online University?
Consider for a moment the number of people that use Facebook. According to Facebook’s statics (Information from Facebook’s site ), there are 500 million members at this time, and people spend over 700 billion minutes a month on the social networking giant. That is quite a lot of people and activity. The numbers alone have caught the attention of corporations, entrepreneurs, governments, and universities. Many use FB to communicate, share information, and create dialogue with consumers, media, citizens, and students. This is often delivered in an informal environment. However, has anyone considered for a moment the idea of using Facebook as a learning platform, also known as a Learning Management System (LMS). There are many LMSs out there already, for example:
• Blackboard (the giant in the LMS world)
• and many others…
Some of these platforms have been around for a long time, and others are fairly new to the industry, but they all have very common basic components:
• Discussion or Forums
• Instant Messaging or Messaging System
• Assessment or Testing
• Assignment Upload
While one may argue that each has some very unique features (and this I would not disagree), all have these basic components or some variation of them. With this in mind, I began researching what is available on Facebook that either mimics, or could be tweaked to mimic such features.
Announcements: FB’s Groups and Fan Pages are ideal for this component. Clearly, with no problems, one could create an announcements section for a class.
Discussion or Forums: Again, this could be easily set up in a Groups or Fan Page. While one might not be able to structure them like the LMS platforms, some tweaking or planning might make it a strong possibility.
Instant Messaging or Messaging System: Here is where I think FB could really pull ahead. Many of the LMS platforms only have a very simple system, and I would concede that FB’s IM is similar. But consider the recent integration with Skype that is coming up for release. Such will provide a very robust communications system that will allow real time collaboration, video conferencing, and much more. As well, FB offers a messaging system, and integrated email system. This by far, beats out the LMS crowd.Continued on the next page