USING THE POWER OF SHARING THROUGH FACEBOOK BEYOND THE SOCIAL
Overview (What’s this idea about)
The idea was to use an existing platform that is popular with high school students and extend its use to stay connected with them after they graduated from high school. A solution that is:
- wide access
Basic premise on which the idea is based:
Create a Facebook closed group/community for the outgoing class of high school students along with their teachers just before their final examinations. At the time students are generally very serious about their studies and distractions are minimum. However, chances are that most students would still be active on social media.
- Use the closed group/community as a study group for students. As they do self-study and consolidate their learning, they can use the facebook group for problem-solving. Peer to peer, teacher-student, anyone in the group is free to collaborate. Grade 12 teachers/professors can post questions, answers, sample papers. Students can post doubts as and when they study and get them cleared immediately. Collaborative group study at its best.
- Since teachers and counsellors are also members of the community, even emotional and mental support can be provided.
- Motivational posts can inspire students to keep up the effort.
- Besides providing all kinds of timely support. the facebook group can also provide a forum for members to discuss other interests like sports, current happenings etc.
- The facebook community can be used for providing career related guidance.
- Results and admissions into colleges can be shared on the community as also important announcements, final placements of students etc.
- Once students join university/colleges, the community serves as an alumni group for the school and can be used for sharing important information, advice, resources etc. It also serves as a forum for connecting with ex-students whenever one feels the need. Facebook being such an intuitive platform, is most easily accessible. The much needed connect between current and past students, teachers and students, school and students is easily created. The school can keep track of students’ progress through the years.
- Add 'fun' elements like voting apps, survey forms etc. to keep the engagement on the group going. These could be for voting students based on categories or carrying out surveys about popular shows that appeal to students, contests for students and teachers, campaigns for causes, celebrations of festivals etc.
- Keep the interest in the community going by encouraging members to share appropriate content that would bring them to the community regularly. Content could be related to debates and discussions around interesting current news, college related alerts that would be useful especially about admissions, courses, professors etc. The task of scheduling and facilitation of discussions could be assigned to any member who volunteers. Students could be given ownership in rotation so that there is more buy in from their side. Announcement of important dates, planning reunions (time, date, venue, participation, agenda etc) can be made easier.
Potential Impact (Why is this an idea that promotes continued growth?)
The idea can provide a free and easy solution for students and school to remain connected and since facebook is a popular platform and has the most instantaneous stimuli-feedback-response mechanism, it will get acceptance across the board.
For large schools, keeping student alumni data is a big challenge. Since almost every student has a facebook account, the idea is based on the premise that communication with the large data base can be made easily, instantaneously and with impact.
- Schools and educators have to get familiar with, get into and accept the world in which their students operate. There is immense potential and value in using technology that our children use intuitively, effortlessly and ubiquitously. Facebook has provided us that opportunity to keep in touch with our students for life. With a simple post on each facebook group of every outgoing class can keep you in touch with every ex-student of your school.
- Use the Facebook community for adding perspective to people’s minds. And realise that it’s all right to use the medium if we have the checks and balances. Also we can use the platform to educate members to be responsible and literate about the use of social media.
- Use the forum to build trust, human values and a wide and balanced outlook and perspective towards life.
- Integrate the positive impact of technology in constructive ways to improve communication, collaboration through trust, sharing and human connect.
How do I get this idea off the ground?
- Encourage teachers to start a facebook account, add friends and see how quickly they begin to share with their friends. Gradually they will shed their inhibitions and begin to interact.
- Start a facebook group for a particular high school class. Add a few students who are on your friend list and ask them to invite their friends from the class.
- Use the facebook closed group/community itself to initiate a discussion on the use of the facebook group/community as a way to remain connected. A debate on whether students and teachers should be on the same page. Teachers and counsellors moderate the discussion and let reservations about the idea melt and gradually disappear.
- Educate the moderators about privacy settings, reading the fine print, remaining updated about the latest developments, at the granular level, being vigilant.
- The moderator should host a session on privacy, safety and the code of conduct while using the medium especially with respect to women and child safety.
- Create a structure around the posts so that Search is made easier and faster.
Keeping teachers and students engaged by adding fun elements through apps, surveys, contests, sharing of engaging content that is relevant, timely and of interest to members, sharing greetings on important days, information about interesting events taking place in different parts of the world, sharing experiences, planning reunions, etc.
Content shared in the community will be the most critical factor for engagement. It should be relevant, timely, relating to sharing about careers/interests/common experiences like memories of school days, professors, birthdays and other milestones etc.
Example of what could go into content: e.g Recommend.ly app
In order to make the idea more robust and purposeful, we hope that through Teacher’s Guild Reach Higher project, we can direct Facebook’s attention to the use of “Facebook for Education” and thereby add some features that are more focussed on the needs of schools, teachers and students.
Schools that have done pilots around the idea can be used as case studies. Get schools on board and then use Cross-pollination between schools to make the format student-teacher-school friendly.
More specifically, we would want Facebook to help us on the following:
- A better Search engine that can help to archive, save, search for information with ease. Data mining is a challenge if one has to get information too much in the past.
- Help categorise and organise information in the community.
- Train school teachers on creating apps that they can use for engagement.