Facebook offers students a sense of community in an era in which students are increasingly being drawn into the cyber world. Facebook allows students to create a profile that is individual to them, and allows them to interact with friends and family while also staying plugged in. Facebook users utilize this website for various purposes including: interacting with each other both publically and privately through Facebook walls and chat, respectively; sharing pictures/videos, links, information, interests, current locations, music, ideas, items for sale, and etc; managing planning of events; and group communication. Facebook allows students to interact with each other in a manner that the classroom alone does not allow. Friendships and relationships are strengthened in a way through this online community. Also, unlike other social networking media, Facebook connects users through networks and displays mutual friends, which encourages students to interact with people they may know – not strangers.
Students know all about fostering their own community in the cyber world through Facebook – far beyond what older generations know about using various Facebook features to contribute to the community. If teachers master Facebook, it can be used in multiple ways in the classroom. Teachers can use Facebook as a means to communicate with their students – whether this means posting homework and important information on Facebook or collecting assignments. Students can also use Facebook to interact with each other for group projects and other tasks. A danger of Facebook can be online bullying or the fact that students use the Internet as a source to publicize their feelings, which can be solved if teachers (and parents) are on Facebook themselves monitoring student activity from the inside.
In history classes specifically, students can create Facebook profiles as a means to empathize with historical figures. For example, students can be assigned historical figures for whom they will create Facebook profiles demonstrating their knowledge about the assigned figure and interact with other historical figures in the classroom by posting on each others’ walls, creating events for actual historic events, and other outlets that Facebook provides. Through this anachronistic community, students can learn history in a way they can relate – seeing “James Madison is attending the Constitutional Convention” on one’s timeline may be an effective way to remember historic events and occurrences. As technology is always changing, newer ways to incorporate history can be found. New features like the timeline can be used as an interactive way to map out history. Teaching using the technology that is familiar to students allows for more engagement with the material, and allows students to create a community of historical figures that interact with each other. Using Facebook in this manner ties together present day technology with past history and ideas allowing students to empathize with generations past.
Tying together history and Internet safety, this lesson can incorporate the lesson that what happens on the Internet, like decisions made in history, is permanent. One wrong photo upload or one wrong decision by a historical figure can have reverberating effects on the future. This is an idea important to all history, and knowing this can teach students to think twice about their actions on the Internet. The patterns seen in history are being continued on the Internet through the Facebook community, making it a vital website for teachers to monitor and use.