Last Tuesday was the first "test" of how things would shake out in the computer lab. We began with an assignment for which the students were asked to create a fictional "history" of their street, neighborhood, or intimate NYC location of choice. This was an opportunity for the students to work within the form and style of Washington Irving--which the students read prior to our lab session.
The in-class writing session worked well. Students were on-task and many posts far exceeded the 600-word minimum requirement. Several of the students produced very creative, thoughtful responses. No one was lost. No one was confused at having to post via our Facebook group. In fact, many students were pleasantly surprised to learn that what they were writing in the lab could be revised later. The creative aspect of the assignment was by far the most challenging for them. As they told me on Thursday, they're not used to being creative.
A few of the students read and responded ("liked") to one another's work. I find it interesting that I'm able to witness this interaction. Also new and interesting is my capacity to respond publicly to student work. I asked the class if they wanted me to comment on their posts--meaning, the Facebook "comment" feature, which is visible to all. They did. This was a new experience--especially since students responded to my comments. I find this high level of visibility slightly uncomfortable. It's new to me. I can also see how this level of interaction via Facebook creates a new set of responsibilities for both students and faculty.
Regarding visibility, balance in this course exists in the fact that only Short Writing Assignments (SWAs) will be posted via Facebook. Longer essay assignments will be a more "private" affair. I'm just not ready to have every assignment open and public. In short, the course design works for me.