Thursday, August 16, 2007

Facebook for CMS?

Susan (?) at Ubernoggin proposed using Facebook as your CMS. She wrote:
Getting tired of the Learning Management System on your campus? Ever look to see how infrequently your students actually log in to see their assignments etc? Let me tell you, it’s pretty darn infrequently. So why not create a course site on a social network where they already live? Facebook now has several apps that make a near perfect course management system. Use “Courses”, a file sharing app, and a chat app and you’ve got every tool in Blackboard on a site that doesn’t go down, isn’t so bland that it puts you and your students asleep, and actually offers collaborative resources that BB can’t provide (oh and you’re not supporting a company which caters to administrators rather than instructors and students but that’s my personal grudge).

If you've read my post about Facebook, you might already know how I responded. If not, here's what I responded on her blog (which you really should check out--she's very interesting):

I can’t say that I fully run my course on Facebook, but I have gone to using it as my means of communication with my students.


I first heard of Facebook about a year ago when I noticed that all my students were on the same page before class started (I teach in a computer lab). I never really thought much about it, but I later taught an online course and I wanted some way to get to know a little more about my students, so I required them to add me as a friend and to join a Facebook group dedicated to the course. Since then, I now require all of my students, both graduate and undergraduate, who have Facebook to add me as a friend.

It only makes sense. Many times students don’t read e-mail anymore, but they can’t wait to see who has posted on their wall. So if someone misses a class or something, I’ll drop them a note and say, “Hey, missed you in class today, everything OK?” I don’t mind taking the time, and they know that I know that they aren’t keeping up. In the case of a missing assignment, I’ll drop them a message instead of posting it on the wall, because the messages are private. As a matter of fact, most of my students don’t e-mail or call anymore because they “Facebook” me instead. The only problem I have had with this, however, is that some students can’t–or shouldn’t–be on Facebook (such as some of the high-profile athletes on campus don’t want the distraction or “public access to their private lives” or some of the student organization officers are prohibited as well), but I’ve just made other arrangements with them.

I do think that your idea is an interesting one. We’ve just gone through the process of switching CMS here at Oklahoma State, and I find that I’m using our CMS (D2L) less and less and Facebook more and more.

I'm as curious as she is. Has anyone else tried this? I've helped design and build a CMS before (SyllaBase), and I know that one of the biggest struggles we had was making it accessible to instructor and student alike while keeping it functional and user-friendly. It seems that using a social networking site and using only the plugins you want might make an interesting option.


Thoughts?

 


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