I was asked today about Facebook Pages for schools. Although everyone seems to have one, I have seemingly avoided investigating Pages for a while now. I therefore decided to unpack the platform using Doug Belshaw’s digital literacies as a guide.
From a cognitive and constructive point of view, there are a few things to consider, including:
- Cover Pages. This could be as simple as adding your own photograph or something found in Creative Commons. Another option is to create something with Canva or Google Drawings.
- Username. This name is used for searching. For example, it acts as the second part of the URL for the page (http://fb.me/nameofschool) and provides an address for people to message by (http://m.me/nameofschool). There is the option of posting as yourself or as ‘the page’. This is adjusted in Post Attribution in the Settings tab. A useful site for identifying a username is Namech_k as it shows what is available across a number of platforms.
- Profile Picture: Each page creates a unique user, associated with this is a profile picture. This maybe the school logo, an image of the principal or if the page is for a classroom, an image of the teacher.
- Description: Limited to 1-2 sentences, this description is similar to what you find in social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter.
- Links: There is the option to provide a link and/or a button to an outside website. This could be a class blog, a school website or another social media platform.
- Content: There are a number of ways to add content to the page. This includes images, events and posts and notes. Within notes there is the ability to add basic formatting and embed objects from Facebook, Giphy, Instagram, SoundCloud, Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube.
- Settings: As with all of Facebook, there are a number of settings that can be changed. For example, you are able to adjust settings around comments via Settings > General > Visitor Posts.
Much of this is covered by Facebook in a series of tips provided when you start a new page. However, this blog also provides some additional guidance.
From a critical and cultural perspective, there are many considerations. One thing is permissions. For example, as a school have you gained informed consent to use images? Or communicate what is happening in the classroom? Does the school have a policy which accounts for how Pages will be used?
Another important aspect is privacy and identity. The first thing that I noticed with my trial space was the focus on marketing and boosting hits. Although I chose to categorise the space as education, it is not designed for education. Here I am reminded of Mark Zuckerbergs’s desire to destroy journalism. Facebook’s failure to protect teens. The way in such spaces and platforms foster a templated self and support inadvertent exclusion. Encouraging transparency through searching by continually changing settings and agreements. Targeting vulnerable teens. Manipulating user emotions. Inviting inappropriate connections. This does not mean that schools should not use Facebook, it is just important to be informed.
For many the appeal to use Facebook relates to communication and cultural norms, rather than considerations around data. The challenge is to find balance between ideals and common practice. I have written about alternatives before. However, if they take twice as long they will never be taken up. So what about you? Have you used Facebook in education? Are there other aspects to consider? As always, comments welcome.
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Exploring Facebook Pages by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.