Friday, October 14, 2011

Reflections on Facebook

I'm feeling especially reflective today since I've been drafting a conference proposal about using Community 2.0 to teach literature at the community college. I also spent last weekend reading two sets of formal essays, which raised some questions about how the online work we're doing is affecting student learning.

One thing I noticed in the essays is how many of my students went to the class Facebook page, re-read the comments posted by their fellow students, and then cited them. In-text citations were awkward (we had never discussed how to cite a Facebook post - does MLA have a protocol for that?) but they managed to make clear where the comments came from (example: "In response to Informal Writing #3, Student X wrote..."). I was initially worried that they were relying too heavily on what their fellow students had to say but most of them used those comments to support their own views, not as a replacement for them. It also shows me that the Facebook page has become a resource for them, something they can go back to when they have a question or are struggling with an idea, which to me is a very good thing.

Facebook also came in handy this past week when my 101 class did a workshop on adding analysis and developing ideas in an essay. After working in groups, I had left a good chunk of class time for sharing group findings and allotted 15 minutes at the end for students to record their thoughts as an informal writing. The discussion was so lively that I didn't want to cut it off so I let them go and was left with not quite enough time. Facebook allowed me the flexibility to assign the informal writing as homework and ask them to post their writings online. We were able to continue our valuable discussion, they'll still get the writing practice they need, and -- as an added bonus -- they can now read each other's comments and learn from them.


  1. Curious--Did you tell them they could use each' other's comments on the paper, or did it occur to them on their own?

    I think MLA has a format for blogs, but not for FB yet--the times may be a'changing too fast for them. Let me check.

  2. Nope. Could not find how to cite a comment on FB on our library site nor on EasyBib.

  3. It should be as follows for MLA

    Editor, screen name, author, or compiler name (if available). “Posting Title.” Name of Site. Version number (if available). Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher). Medium of publication. Date of access.

    Name of Poster (as it appears on the site, i.e. "c.jason.smith"). Web post. Date posted. Date accessed.

    Twitter handle (Author, i.e. @BarackObama). Web log post. Date posted. Web. Date accessed.

  4. Oh, and some versions have picked up using the word "Web" at the end.

  5. WOW!!!!! Thank you for posting the MLA formats for blog posts, Facebook comments, and tweets, truly an eye-opening experience for me.

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  7. It's good to know how to cite Facebook, for sure. I'm also curious to know whether they had to cite each other from Facebook, or whether they did that on their own. Could Ning work in a similar way?

  8. Wow, indeed. Thanks, Jason, for finding all the MLA citations for social media. The fact that they exist confirms that people really are using Twitter, Facebook, etc. for academic purposes.

    As for X's question, I suggested they review the FB posts to get ideas for their essays and to review the different perspectives that were raised in class but I didn't say anything about quoting them directly. I guess our discuss about plagiarism sank in enough that they wanted to cite everything, which is great.