This particular e-phenomenon, while not an e-learning product in the typical sense, has such a vast and widespread usage that its potential as an e-learning tool and not just a social net-working tool cannot be ignored. 

Since its inception by a young Harvard student in February of 2004, it has grown pratically exponentially to have currently 25 – 30 million active users worldwide!

Using the cube as a guide to determine its place, if any, in the market, FB satisfied many of the desirable components of a promising e-learning product.

Originally FB was created as a way to share personal information and to build a social network for students at Harvard University.  As the website states:  Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them”.  It extended at first to students from Harvard to other universities and in September 2006 extended beyond educational institutions to anyone age 13 and over worldwide. 

Slated as a social networking service with an educational focus, FB now allows personal applications and potentially users can build businesses, increase business contacts, solve business and/or social conflicts and can have many other business related uses. 

Access is free and (predominantly college-aged) users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school or region.  The money is in the advertising and advertisers that purchased banner ads targeted towards these young, educated adults are enjoying revenues in the millions. 

Globally, FB is available in several languages worldwide.  FB’s 500 employees in California are continually developing and expanding to continue to meet market needs.  However, FB is also blocked in several countries including Syria and Iran and also banned at some workplaces so as to not reduce levels of productivity.

FB generates revenue solely from advertising and the site has an projected valuation of $15 billion by 2015.  It competes with other similar social networking forums such as MySpace but apparently continues to be the leading social networking site especially in English speaking countries. 

Some negative aspects have been an issue – personal privacy may be compromised at times.  Some workplaces have been known to have hired students to research background info of prospective employees – several lawsuits are pending.

The power of this forum and similar others as an e-learning resource can’t be underestimated.  (I wish I had purchased stock….)


1 davidp { 09.21.08 at 1:41 pm }

Definitely a phenomenon.

Some institutions are using FB plugins to reach their students with information linked to student informations systems and security alerts, but I have not seen many applications of FB that are linked to the teaching and learning side of our work.

Anyone have any examples?

2 Kenneth Heales { 09.21.08 at 3:04 pm }

Hi Cori,
You picked a great example with Facebook. I agree that it has a great deal of potential as a learning tool. Unfortunately, there are also a number of negative aspects to it. It has become a very hot issue at our high school because of the number of students who are compelled to access it for non-educational reasons during class time. I just had a computer assignment with my SS11 class and had to remind some students on a number of occasions to remain on topic. There is also the issue of maintaining appropriate relationships with students. I have heard of some teachers who have allowed students to access them through Facebook. The problem lies in maintaining a professional relationship when much of what is posted on Fascebook is very personal in nature.
I can certainly see an educational value to this type of software. The problem lies in how to actually utilize it in a way that doesn’t cross boundaries.

3 Melissa Anders { 09.22.08 at 1:10 pm }

One way that I can see Facebook being used as a learning technology, is that when I first joined facebook sometime around 2005, I was able to upload the courses I was taking at McGill. From there, I was able to see other people taking those courses with my at McGill as well as other students who were taking similar courses at other Universities.

Although my professors nor I ever took advantage of this feature, discussions with people in my class or other universities could have been started expanding topic exploration to see what others in other areas of the world thought.

4 Marc Kampschuur { 09.22.08 at 7:14 pm }

Looks like predecessor [URL=”522 Students”]http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?sid=640a82cc0ca57cbb5ca713affcdcfc12&refurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.new.facebook.com%2Fs.php%3Fsid%3D640a82cc0ca57cbb5ca713affcdcfc12%26q%3Detec%26init%3Dq%26n%3D-1%26o%3D4%26k%3D200000010%26sf%3Dt&gid=18691353080[/URL]
used applied it to their group work. Is also an MET group.

Can see using FB as asynchronous and now synchronous texting tool but not offer the collaborative potential of google docs and zoho.

5 Deepika Sharma { 09.22.08 at 10:58 pm }

I am curious about this statement of yours Cori –

“..solve business and/or social conflicts and can have many other business related uses”

Does FB really help in resolving social conflicts. I am on FB (after much resitence and the from what I can see, if one is not careful it has the potential to take up a lot of your time (just as social networking otherwise would!) – besides there are applications that it supports that after sometime seem meaningless. I am not being the cynic here, just that being on FB needs a lot of maturity to achieve what you really want to!

FB on its part will now continue to do what it can to increase its popularity amongst all segments – students, graduates, working people, people at home – so where is the market differentiation? In my view it is market integration – that is just social networking…you may want to network for business, you may want to network with your school buddies – FB is the place to be in for all this.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy networking via FB 🙂


6 cwickes { 09.24.08 at 8:57 pm }

Hi Dee,
Personally, I don’t use FB but 3 out of 5 of my kids do and I’m both interested and concerned in the incredible ‘pull’ that it has for my own children and the hundreds of others that they are connected to. There must be a way to harness this interest in the educational realm somehow!!
The key word for me in the sentence you refer to above is ‘potentially’ . You are right – it would take a high level of social maturity to work towards resolving social conflicts….but I clearly see FB’s potential as a business resource. The connectivity it effortlessly creates is pretty scary really and I’m not sure what to make of it as both a parent and educator.

7 Sarah Wood { 09.25.08 at 6:59 am }

Hi Cori,

Thanks for your review of Facebook. It has become the model that many social networking platforms have tried to replicate. For business related networking, I think LinkedIn (linkedin.com) is the reining champion. It avoids all the deep personal information that Facebook contains and focuses strictly on members’ business background & credentials. It is definitely an important platform for connecting with like minded individuals in your industry. I even was able to get in touch with a long lost friend in The Netherlands!


8 Jagpal Uppal { 09.28.08 at 5:31 pm }

Hi everyone,

Facebook has within a short amount of time become the industry leader in social networking. While there are many other benefits and applications that Facebook offers, the main tool is the ability to “look up” old friends and express and share yourself (pictures, videos, blogs, etc) with the world (or those that you accept into your facebook world).

Facebook has been a major distraction within my class, and although there maybe benefits….my experiences at the highschool level suggest that it does more harm than good.

That being said, I also stay away from it within my class, because I have a Facebook account and do NOT like students trying to add me or build an online relationship. There have been no rules set up about facebook and teachers/students….but I have had many requests….some from students that have graduated. I don’t know how others have handled this….or if you have any advice…..I have simply been rejecting them all.

That being said….on a personal level….I enjoy Facebook!


9 davidp { 09.29.08 at 7:32 pm }

Here is a Globe and Mail story on a University of Georgia study of Facebook…


If you find this story something worthy of further debate, perhaps it can be continued in this week’s Mod 4 discussions on the external site that the Mod 4 team has set up for us.

10 cwickes { 10.02.08 at 2:38 pm }

Thanks for the article, Davidp. It was, of course, one-sided media reporting but stirs up lots of thoughts for further discussion. The comments about the article were interesting to read too…

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