Lance recently wrote wondering how he would use a Facebook page with his course. I should start by saying that although I have a Facebook account, I don't really use it - I signed up for it to look around and to decide whether I wanted to start using it and haven't decided on "yes" yet.
In thinking about Lance's question, my first question was whether he would create a Facebook group for his class, or create an actual user and name it after his class. Depending on what notification options work on a group -vs- work on a user might guide this decision. For example, if one of these allows other Facebook users to receive a notification when the wall is written on, then it might become the better choice.
My next thoughts on this relate to Internet-based course management ideas that could be done via other technologies, but might be possible using Facebook instead. So, what could Lance do with a Facebook account/group for his class that could already be done with forums? He could provide a way for students in the class to:
Next, what could Lance do with a Facebook account/group for his class that could be already be done with an RSS feed? He could have a way to let students know when he has:
Assuming that anything that could be done via Facebook could also be done using forums or feeds or other technologies, why use Facebook rather than web forums or RSS feeds or other tools at our disposal? To borrow an idea from Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, one reason might be "because that's where the students are, so if we want to guide them, that's where we should be".
However, the above is more the reason why I have not used Facebook with my courses yet. I see Facebook as a place where students go to socialize, not to do classwork. I recall reading when I was a student that you shouldn't do homework in bed or your brain might have more trouble turning off thoughts of schoolwork when you are trying to go to sleep. I don't know whether there is research to back up this perception that I picked up somewhere along the way, but if so, then perhaps we should ask whether it would be better to keep our courses off of Facebook (unless we are teaching a course that covers social networking as a topic). If this is meant to be a social space for students, would we be infringing upon this by bringing our courses there?
As an (essentially) non-Facebook user, there might be some uses that would be unique to Facebook (or similar social networking sites) of which I am unaware. This "reply" to Lance (prompted by Bill) is meant more to open what I see as a central question raised by Lance's question of "what to put up there" (see his original post).