Facebook’s new Groups for Schools not the best choice for civic engagement

Social media behemoth Facebook, just announced Groups for Schools, a closed community model for campuses. The idea of a group for classes or clubs and the ability to share large files is great, but ultimately, the idea limits connectedness, the greatest asset of any network by keeping out anyone without the right .edu email address.

One problem I imagine is that most students aren’t using their campus email address to access Facebook. In fact, a 2008 report by Educause said that 10 percent of associate, baccalaureate, and master’s institutions as well as 25 percent of doctoral institutions were already considering putting an end to student e-mail addresses because so many students were already using personal e-mail accounts. It also seems that K-12 schools might be unlikely use this feature based on the email address restriction. How many K-12 students are using .edu email addresses?

The biggest flaw in Groups for Schools, resides in the fact that most learning takes place outside of school. Knowledge, wisdom, and expertise does not reside exclusively in schools. Schools are just one part of anyone’s personal learning network. Giving anyone one more private club to join keeps them from opportunities for applied learning, the work world and the community where most of their lives unfold.

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One thought on “Facebook’s new Groups for Schools not the best choice for civic engagement

  1. Facebook is trying to be everything to everyone–from connecting with friends, to gaming, to career networking (Facebook’s Branchout), to photos (recent acquisition of Instagram) to music…and now Groups for Schools. In line with your point about most learning taking place outside of school, NobleHour (http://www.noblehour.com) is a place where people can connect online AND offline; it’s a place they are familiar with (online), but where they can collect and aggregate their offline activities like service learning, volunteering, or work-based learning, into one place. And share it on their Facebook wall if they want! NobleHour offers the same (and more) features that Groups for Schools does, but they don’t require an .edu email address. Their mission is to encourage community connections and civic engagement…not to encourage people to be logged into Facebook 24/7. Disclosure: I serve as Director of Marketing for NobleHour.

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