Anna Pires of IH Braga gave a brilliant seminar at the recent IH Portugal training day called “If you can’t beat them, join them!” where she looked at the ways that our learners interact with technology in their daily lives and how we as teachers can bring that into our lessons more. Among the many things she touched on in the session was, of course, facebook!
One idea that I really liked was giving students a handout with a blank status update field and getting them to update their status onto the handout, before sticking it to the wall. The learners can then wander round the room, read each other’s updates and comment on them – much as they would do if they were online. This is a really nice way of finding out what kind of place all your learners are in as they enter the classroom, as well as connecting the classroom to the real world.
Anna also demonstrated an activity where learners can create facebook style pages for historical figures – a nice way of blending different skills development into an information transfer task, which also has myriad opportunities for language development that could be built into a lesson based around the idea. It doesn’t have to be historical figures of course, fictional characters could be used as well. Anna cited Lisa Dubernard’s post “Facebookin’ in the ActivClassroom?“, where Lisa has developed ideas from a post on Richard Byrne’s blog: Historical Facebook – Facebook for Dead People.
Into this mix also comes “Fakebook” – from classtools.net – which is an online facebook style profile generator. It has the advantage of automatically selecting profile pictures from the internet, though names need to be spelt correctly, which cuts down on the amount of time learners spend browsing through the google image search. It is therefore relatively easy for learners to then imagine the conversation that went on between, say, John Terry and Steven Gerrard that took place on Fernando Torres’ wall after Torres moved from Liverpool to Chelsea. (for those of you who have no idea why that might be important – this BBC news report gives some background.
My learners spent a happy half hour thinking about who might be friends with whom and why, and what they might all say to each other. In retrospect, a certain amount of pre-computer room planning and preparation might be useful – thinking about what they know about their chosen famous victim and such like, in order to avoid the classic “wikipedia dump” tactic…
Definitely worth a go – and thanks to (yes it’s that man again…) Larry Ferlazzo for first posting on fakebook’s existence: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2011/03/30/fakebook/
Larry also suggests using fakebook as a way of getting learners to produce synopses of novels & literature (an idea I would love to try!) and also as a way of documenting major historical events from the perspective of the participants (also something I’d like to try, but not likely to get much opportunity to!).