Saturday, July 21, 2007

Facebook - a group for us, and thoughts on its value

While I'm still not sure how, or indeed why, Facebook could or should be turned to educational purposes, I'm still interested to see if it can.

To that end I've joined Elizabeth Murphy's 'Facebook as a learning tool' group. There's some discussion on there with most people arguing that it can be put to good use. However, the one comment that has struck me came from Nicole Cargill-Kipar who says:
Perhaps, then, the question is if we actually want to encroach into the students' social spaces.
Quite so. Does every new space have to be bent to elearning's needs?

Of course, this approach comes from the Education sector. I've more experience of the corporate space. I would feel uncomfortable, both as a manager and as a user, using Facebook as a networking space bringing together my personal and private lives. After all, one of the great joys of FB is having it unearth people you had long since lost touch with, wherever they are (I've had two such people contact me in just the last 3 days), but I'm not sure that I want to be linking these same people with the folk who sit at the next cubicle at work.

But what if corporate intranets used the same approach to building online relationships organically? Of course, this would really only work in large organisations - in my own company for example I don't think it would be make much sense - I'd have achieved all my meeting and greeting pretty much by the end of the second day.

But it's in this larger corporate sense that I could really see the social networking model having value as a place for informal learning and discussion. For example you could post queries to your friends, much as you might in person anyway, but you wouldn't have to open yourself up to the entire organisation, as you might on an open forum. Your time meeting other new inductees would bear fruit for much longer than those first few days.

I'm still not sure that I see how content would be pushed via the FB model, but as a place to share learning, I can really see how the model has benefits, even if FB itself may not be the place to do that.
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