In early October I had a student come to me to ask if we had a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations in the school library. I’m proud of the collection of books that we have in the library, but I doubted that we had this primary source from the 2nd Century C.E.. Together we were able to find that the Saskatoon Main Public library had two copies in its special collections, and we were also able to find a couple of online copies from U.S. university education sites. I had coached this student in basketball last year and I knew he was interested in history and thinking, but also knew he didn’t have high honour role grades. I wondered what inspired him to tackle such challenging subject matter. When I asked he said he was working on a really interesting Facebook project in his Philosophy class.
In the course readings for the Master’s program that I am presently part of, both William Kist and Will Richardson make reference to how Facebook is being used effectively in the classroom. Inspired by my Marcus Aurelius’s experience, I approached the two teacher’s I knew who used Facebook to have them show and explain to me how they used it with their students and the benefits that it provided. I also received permission from them and their students to post some examples of the assignments and the products produced.
The first teacher I approached was the same one who gave me permission to post his course blogs earlier. On the cover of his two History post blogs you can see and gain access to the article How Facebook Changed the World , referencing the influence Facebook had in the Spring and Summer Revolutions in Northern Africa and the Middle-East.
Here is the Philosophy assignment that inspired the student mentioned earlier: Facebook edit; Facebook Philosophers; FACEBOOK Rubric
Below are the screen clippings of the students Facebook profile of Marcus Aurelius Antonius and Jean Rousseau.
Also here is the site from which to view the students entire Marcus Aurelius’s Product.The work representing Rousseau is recommended as an example of a strong student product. If you are prompted for or need an e-mail address and/or password to gain access contact me and I can provide that for you.
So what are the benefits of the students using Facebook to take on the characteristics of their chosen Philosopher, instead of writing, drawing, or using some other format like Power Point?
- It’s in a medium that most students are familiar with. They are comfortable with the use of the technology, so it is easier for them to convey their thoughts.
- They can express their thoughts in multiple forms. Not only in writing but especially visually, and potentially with audio if they so choose.
- The variety of literacies can help them take in the information in a format that best suits their learning style. (Again strong benefits for visual learners)
- The posting of discussion allows for students to express thoughts in writing, and exchange ideas with other students and the teacher.
- The teacher can observe the discussions and posts and poses questions for students to clarify and share their thoughts. (In the discussion board the teacher is the one faceless character named after the school)
- Finally, as stated at the beginning, it helped to peak the interest of a student and had him tackle a challenging topic not with trepidation but with enthusiasm. It helps the students to be engaged in their work.
Some people fear the public nature of Facebook and in order for this project to be approved by the school division it had to be created in a closed group setting.
My second post that will be addressing how Facebook is used to assist learning and student engagement is in a Photography class.