Facebook (www.facebook.com) is a social networking site. There are quite a few other social networking site including MySpace (www.myspace.com) and Friendster (www.friendster.com). However, Facebook is extremely popular in Canada and claims to be the most popular site of its kind. Facebook was originally designed for college and university students to network with each other, but in 2006 it was opened up for anyone to join.
Facebook is extremely easy to use; there is nothing to download. You simply go to the site and create a profile, add your information and then start adding people you know. Once you have joined Facebook, there are countless groups, causes, networks and applications that you can add. One of the most popular features on Facebook is photo sharing. There are a number of privacy settings that can be enabled to control how much information can be seen publicly and by your contacts.
According to Facebook there are over 120 million registered users. Although it was originally designed for and used by college students, its fastest growing user group is now people over the age of 25. Facebook claims that it is the fourth most popular Internet site and the most popular photo sharing site with over 10 billion photos posted worldwide!
Although it is primarily used for photosharing and social networking, Facebook can also be used for learning. Some face-to-face instructors and teachers encourage students to set up Facebook study groups.
Facebook isn't just for individuals, however. Organizations, businesses, events, television shows, music groups and more have set up pages. For example, Facebook played an important role in the 2008 American presidential elections. Barack Obama and his supporters made extensive use of the Internet in general, including using Facebook to organize rallies and other political events and even to raise money. His Facebook site has over three million members.
Technology in Action
Facebook is used by a number of literacy organizations to raise money and to create groups of learners, volunteers and supporters. In fact, a search for literacy groups on Facebook resulted in over 500 listings. If your literacy agency hasn't set up a Facebook group yet, perhaps you might want to consider this. It could be a great way to market your program and to recruit students, volunteers and community partners. It could also be used to share success stories and to let people know of upcoming events. Because Facebook groups can be private or public, you could set up private groups for professional development discussions or for learning opportunities for students. This would be a wonderful way for students to practice their writing skills! Facebook also offers a variety of free game applications that can be added to your profile including Scrabble, WordTwist, TextTwist, Soduko and more. This could be a fun way for learners to practice their literacy and numeracy skills and engage in friendly competition.
The Toronto Public Library also has a Facebook page that it uses to promote its events and services. It includes links to book collections and to YouTube videos of some of its events.