Wouter and I have presented work-in-progress results at a Faculty meeting at the end of last semester. The audience was mixed – from students to senior administrators – but everyone seemed interested. The presentation was very much in a workshop style, leaving plenty of room for discussion and questions – and Wouter and I made clear in advance that we did not have all the answers but could only explain the choices we had made.
Some of the main issues that were raised:
Q: How does the Facebook group relate to the use of Blackboard for this course? A: All official communication goes via Blackboard because this is still the platform that everyone goes to for more ‘static’ information like timetables and deadlines. The Facebook group did not mention ‘static’ information.
Q: Did the students contribute posts, or was it mainly you providing content? A: Certainly the latter, but students certainly responded and some of them did have something to post – just not that many. However, we thought this was perhaps a bit much to expect. One person in the audience came up with the idea that we could introduce ‘dare-to-ask-thursday’ where students could mention their questions. I have done this twice since and especially when coming close to the deadline for papers, this was a good way to get students to ask things!
Q: Do you become friends with your students? A: No – it is perfectly possible to be in a group together without being friends (which I do not think is a good idea).
Q: Are you always on Facebook to respond to issues? A: No, I am not on Facebook privately so the only reason I log in is for this group. I do this at work so over the weekend, things will simply have to wait. For me, this ensures there are some boundaries between my private life and work.
We were very happy about the positive response. Also, I have been nominated by students for the Carla Musterd teaching prize and one of the things they mentioned in their report was the use of Facebook groups. All this positive response leaves us with the idea that this project was a success and that we should think about how we can continue.