Engaging Facebook: An Interactive Discussion and Training on Making Facebook Matter in the Classroom

By Allison Butler.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social networking is a cornerstone of digital communication and easily maneuvered by young people who connect digitally with great regularity. This makes for a unique opportunity to connect with young people – and yet can also be a source of great frustration. When Facebook, for example, occupies so much of young people’s time, can classroom teachers and scholars make use of it as a research and teaching tool? Should social networking, and Facebook in particular, become part of a comprehensive media literacy curriculum? This workshop is designed for classroom teachers and scholars who want to make better sense of – and use of – digital communication with young people.

Young people appear to be linked in almost constantly; they update and provide minute-by-minute details of their activities; they say ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ to Facebook. Facebook feels like open terrain for self-expression, but examined through the lens of political economy, there are strict boundaries young people are not invited to see. Facebook has helped shift grammar, colloquialism and writing styles, understandings of ‘private’ and ‘public’ and connections to corporate conglomerates. Can a thorough understanding of Facebook and its connection to a corporate media culture provide young people with a more nuanced understanding of their activities? The inclusion of Facebook into the classroom neither punishes nor celebrates young people’s pleasure in social networking, but rather, provides a more complex, comprehensive understanding of what feels like (but is not) free space. This workshop engages directly with teachers and scholars, providing lesson plans and training to bring social networking into various classrooms and cultivate a greater awareness of complexity of digital communication.

Keywords: Media Education, Social Networking, Urban Education, Qualitative Research, Alternative Curricula, Teacher Training, Curriculum Development

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.51-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 714.560KB).

Dr. Allison Butler

Independent Scholar, Easthampton, Massachusetts, USA

I hold an MA and a PhD from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education in the Media, Culture and Communication Department. I have 10+ years experience in high school, undergraduate and graduate teaching and community and classroom work in media education. I have worked in the NYC public school system, developing media literacy curricula and community partnerships and been involved in several community-based media education projects. I have developed and taught courses in media literacy to undergraduate and graduate students. My book, ‘Media education goes to school: Young people make meaning of media and urban education’ (New York: Peter Lang, 2010) is drawn from research with urban high school students in NYC; I am currently at work on a longitudinal project with 20 young people as they transition from high school to college and work environments, tentatively titled ‘Majoring in change: Young people reflect on urban education.’ This research is drawn from 4 years worth of private, small group and Facebook-based interviews.