Bridging the Digital Divide — by Joanne Piombino

“Social Networking Sites (SNSs) such as Facebook are one of the latest examples of communication technologies that have been widely-adopted by students and, consequently, have the potential to become a valuable resource to support educational communications and collaborations with faculty.” (Roblyer, 2010)  Dr. Elaine Shenk noticed a reoccurring theme each semester when reviewing students’ feedback within her course evaluation forms. The majority of students were not fond of the discussion board section within their courses.  One of the major complaints students had was that they disliked having to navigate to the discussion board each day, to see if someone replied to their post. “Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards.” (Prensky, 2001) Communicating on Facebook eliminates this complaint because students receive notification of edits within their Facebook news feed, and within their email accounts.

Facebook Screenshot

The other major grievance students had was that the discussion board tool was boring.  Some students mentioned that they would rather lose points for an incomplete assignment, than use that tool.  Since Facebook is a tool students are already engaged in socially, I suggested tapping into that interest for schoolwork.  Because most students check their Facebook accounts multiple times a day, they will be informed of class activity within their news feed, eliminating the grievance of logging into Blackboard for updates.  “Today’s teachers have to learn to communicate in the language and style of their students. This doesn’t mean changing the meaning of what is important, or of good thinking skills. But it does mean going faster, less step-by step, more in parallel, with more random access, among other things.” (Prensky, 2001)

Facebook offers an engaging online alternative for classroom discussions facilitated by the instructor.  It also offers another form of assessment, demonstrating student comprehension of the language through monitoring their conversations. Dr. Shenk’s Facebook page “Composicion en espanol” permits an avenue for students to demonstrate their knowledge of the Spanish language in a less formal atmosphere, and it stimulates creativity due to the capability of sharing movies, photos, links etc… all within an environment students are proficiently comfortable with!

Please click on the image below, and become inspired:

Thumbnail image for Teaching In The 21st Century (Mathipedia 2010)

Teaching In The 21st Century (Mathipedia 2010)







Works Cited

Mathipedia. (2010). ASB Unplugged Conference in Mumbai, India . Retrieved October 23, 2012, from You Tube:

Prensky, M. (2001, October). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On The Horizon, 1-6.

Roblyer, R. D. (2010). Findings on Facebook in Higher Education: A Comparison of College Faculty and Student Uses and Perceptions of Social Networking Sites. Internet and Higher Education, 134-40.