of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Pedagogical Benefits of Facebook

Yesterday, I read a Facebook posting by Roger Whitson concerning a 19th Century British Novel course he is teaching during fall semester.  He shared his website for the course.  Furthermore, in answer to a question I had posted, he provided information about how he was able to incorporate a blog into his website.

Because of his sharing, I have some new ideas about how to approach the student portion of my website.  Furthermore, because of his posting as well as his support, I was able to incorporate a blog onto my website within about five minutes.  (I am not linking to it because it was just a temporary blog to learn the technology.  Later I will create the real blogs for classes.)  Finally, I am looking forward to spending more time reading his assignments and reflecting on them.

Professor Whitson is not someone I knew before yesterday.  He was a Facebook friend of Cathy Davidson.  However, he provided valuable support for me which will help improve my teaching.

Throughout the past couple of years, Facebook has been a valuable tool for me and my students.  Not only do I keep up on news and information, I have also been able to build connections with Facebook friends and my students.  For example, because of a posting that the Reverend David Grant Smith made on the Feast of the Ascension, I was able to quickly incorporate a mini-lesson into my history classes concerning point of view based around Salvador Dali’s Ascension.

Articles written by Dr. Glenn Sunshine and Mr. Christopher Bargeron have become course assignments.  And Dr. Cathy Davidson is frequently posting items that provoke my thinking and which I can share with students.  One recent item Dr. Davidson shared concerned an app that allows individuals to see a digitized version of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.  Dr. Davidson had posted the same day that some of my students were giving a presentation on AIDS and I was able to incorporate a video she referenced into the class.

While there is much goofiness on Facebook, I have used some of the poor rhetoric, sloppy logic, and outright bias as teaching tools.  “Look what I read in Facebook today…” can be a great way to begin a discussion of credibility or sources or author bias.  In fact, the modern American history class which I taught during Spring semester was partially organized around a meme that a friend posted; a friend I will not name to save the individual embarrassment.

As a result of a discussion that followed a Facebook posting I made on July 6 concerning watching a show on military history, former student Zachary Handel recommended that I read The Book of the Five Rings.  I ordered the book last night.  And while doing research on it, I came across another book that was ordered with it.

There are many others whose postings I have shared with classes and I cannot try to mention them all here.  But my contacts through Facebook improve my teaching.


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