This semester I am teaching Composition I in two amazing learning communities at Kennesaw State. Both learning communities are focused on women’s issues and are comprised of all female students. In one of the classes, our theme is Leading Ladies and we are focusing on the various aspects of our roles as leaders, the obstacles we face, and the ways in which can empower ourselves, our communities, and each other as women. In the other class, our theme is Global Girl Talk, and we are discussing the important issues that women are facing all over the world and relating these issues back to our own lives. I will certainly be posting more on the great things that these young women are doing in the near future, but this post is about evaluating Facebook.
For their second essay, my students are writing evaluation essays. They are invited to write an evaluation of just about anything they choose, but I am encouraging them to choose topics that address the themes of our communities. They may choose to evaluate a female artist’s work or a business that is run by women for women, or they may look at product or service that is marketed to women.The list goes on and on. There are so many things that we evaluate on a daily basis. The ability to evaluate effectively is an important critical thinking skill, and this is why I incorporate this assignment into my first-year composition courses.
Last week, I had my students do an online class using a Facebook page that I created for both learning communities. I chose to use Facebook primarily because it was easy to post links to videos and articles and I also wanted to experiment with how the students responded to the educational use of a Facebook page. I then evaluated Facebook using the three criteria set forth in their book, Good Reasons, by Lester Faigley and Jack Selzter. These criteria are: aesthetics, practicality, and ethics.
I created the following Haiku Deck presentation to demonstrate several important lessons to my students. First, I wanted to show them how to create an effective presentation using clean and simple design elements. Haiku Deck is a great presentation software for getting these zen presentation results. I also wanted to demonstrate how to give a presentation in a professional and effective way. I used my own presentation to model the presentations they would be giving on the topics of their evaluation, and I also used my own evaluation of Facebook to prompt them to think about how social media can best be used for positive rather than negative outcomes. This was a lesson plan with many layers, and it worked out really well to teach by example and also explore some more complex issues about social media and how we use it for either positive or negative purposes.
In my evaluation, I concluded that it is time to rethink how we use Facebook as a social media platform. Facebook is easy to use (practical), and the interface allows us to post articles and videos with thumbnails and summaries (aesthetics and practicality), and it can be utilized to share knowledge and support causes and companies that we want to promote (ethics). Facebook can also be used to create an online personae that reflects our positive traits, values, and qualities rather than shines a spotlight on our more negative traits. Therefore, it is crucial that we begin to rethink how we use all social media in general, but more specifically, we can start using Facebook for good, as a platform to share information, promote and engage activism, and support others and ourselves as conscious and productive members of today’s society.