I wouldn't say I like online teaching. Like many others, I love to have genuine interactions with my students. Online instructions bring me out of my comfort zone. I can't see my student's faces to know whether they understand. I can't hear their laugh to tell whether my jokes work. The last part of my semester can be described in one word: dull. To save me from MS Teams fatigues, I revisited my past experience and decided to incorporate Facebook in my lectures.
The use of social media in education is not novel. When I worked as a teaching assistant at Indiana University, I was asked to create a Twitter account for a class. The initial goal is to introduce students to news from pharmaceutical industry. The idea flopped. It was refreshing but did not work. No reply, not retweet, no nothing.
I revisited the idea of using social media while attending PEN last year. Ian Kalman, a Fulbright University professor, introduced the use of social media in the workshop. Ian uses social media as a platform to interact with students. In his arguments, our medium shapes our behavior. The same person will behave differently on various platforms. One can be shy offline but "talkative" online.
"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication." -Marshall McLuhan
As Facebook becomes a learning platform, it encourages shy students to voice up. Another benefit is class content shall be archived and revisited later. He allowed us to experiment in PEN and I could not wait to try in my class.
And then I did. Once. I did not like how the class turned out. Students have to switch from blackboard and phone. The method distracted them from the "now" moment. I can't feel their presence in class. Fast forward to 2021, the delta wave forces me to be back with MS Teams. This time social media becomes my savior. After the dull first online session, instead of asking questions and waiting for answers out of desperation, I posted my question on Facebook. This time it works wonders! Given students are already in the online platform, they remained at their digital presence. Facebook is a more social and more relaxing medium to connect. My students become more engaged. Some started to raising voices in lectures as they get to use to raising opinions. I'm saved. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.
P.S: Coldplay just released new single. Why don't you give it a try?