I know it's been a while and I do apologize. As you know I am a social media enthusiast and I enjoy looking at social trends within difference contexts. Recently I've noticed a significant increase in social integration in the classroom. All of my classes have official Facebook discussion groups that are moderated by professors or TAs. This is coupled with a higher use of the Blackboard discussion groups. In the classes that have this online supplement the professor typically assigns 10% of the grade to participation especially when using Blackboard. I realize that students have been forming groups like these before but I've rarely seen an official one created by the professor/TA.
I have 1 class that uses a Facebook group to connect students to TAs and additional material and 1 class that strictly uses Blackboard for this purpose. However, I've noticed there is a stark contrast between using the Blackboard discussion board and an avenue such as Facebook for online course supplements. If you happen to be a TA or a professor reading this you better start taking notes! I've noticed the Facebook groups are better in terms of student engagement with the course material and extra material as well as the professors and TAs. I've actually learned a few concepts strictly from the Facebook discussion group. While on the other hand the discussion board is rarely used and when it is used I'm being forced to by a 10% participation mark. There is no other shared material other than what is required of me to post for my grade.
I believe the whole idea behind having discussion boards/groups in the first place is to foster engagement between students and with the course material - the whole learn together thing. I would like to see more classes adopt an official Facebook group to supplement learning and course material. I've noticed students are more active on such a group because they are already on Facebook for other reasons and it's a more casual environment as opposed to the one offered by Blackboard. Though the Facebook group does have to be moderated or else it will turn into a free for all dystopia of trolling.
I happen to enjoy these Facebook discussion groups, but I'm not sure how prevalent they are among the classes at UTSC. Let me know to what capacity your classes have them and how you feel about them in the comment section below!
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