How should we, in our institutions, go about evaluating the potential of Facebook? How can we gain a better understanding for the benefits it may provide to our students? How should we explore its limitations? And should we be pro-active in providing access to our data (our search facilities, our RSS feeds, our applications) from within Facebook?
I’ve come across a number of posting on the potential of Facebook, including one from John Kirriemuir’s Silversprite blog, Mike Ellis on his Electronic Museum blog and, for those who like puns, some witticisms provided on Mark Sammons’ In-Cider Knowledge blog. And while the University of Keele has been banning Facebook, the University of Waterloo has been discussing how Facebook can be used as a tool to communicate with the 22,000 members of the University who are registered on its Facebook network. But these postings seem to be taking place in isolation, and missing out on the benefits of wider discussion and debate.
Alison Wildish, a plenary speaker at IWMW 2007, wrote a guest blog post about social networking environments recently, in which she described the approaches to social networks which are being taken at Edge Hill University. And Alison has set up an IWMW 2007 Facebook group which aims to provide a forum for discussion about such issues. Feel free to join (if you have a Facebook account) and participate in the discussions.
Note that the group has been set up to provide a forum for focussed discussions prior to the IWMW 2007 event which takes place on 16-18th July. One of the aims of the group during this period will be to explore whether the Facebook group should continue in its current form or migrate to an alternative environment. As you can see from the accompanying screenshot, the debate has already begun, and we are discussing whether Facebook should be banned or should be supported – or whether this debate is irrelevant, as students are likely to increasingly do their own thing anyway!