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Facebook as an useful classroom tool By: Silvia Andrea Tarazona Ariza.

Nowadays there are different sorts of applications, websites, blogs, softwares and devices specially designed for learning and teaching. In this paper I will mainly focus on the

use of Facebook as a classroom tool. Although Facebook is used mostly to socialize with friends, it is starting to be a recognized instrument for online learning. Golder, Wilkinson, and Huberman, (2007). Claimed that the majority of college students have a Facebook account, and they are spending a considerable amount of time logged in. Additionally, it is known that students use Facebook not only to socialize with peers but also for educational purposes. Social media is becoming more and more recognized by people in several professional fields, education is not the exception. However, it seems to be a discussion among people who agree and the ones who disregard Facebook as a good learning and teaching strategy for the classroom. I personally believe and incorporate Facebook as a tool to encourage learning because I teach English to people aged 14 to 18 and they are into technology a little bit more than I am, and also since it is important to me that my students start to develop research skills, as in approximately 3 years they are going to be college students and it is a requirement for them in their academic future to know how to investigate and obtain certain information online. To decide if the use of Facebook is positive or negative, it is necessary to view it in perspective and to analyze separately the pros and the cons. First, I would highlight as a pro the fact that Facebook is the most popular social network today, meaning that a lot of people know about it, feel comfortable with it, and therefore, they have a Facebook account. Another positive aspect of Facebook is that it is free and it is legally allowed for everybody over 13 years old. Thirdly, there is content available for almost every topic, famous people, arts, languages, politics, etc. I would also add that Facebook is really easy to use as it is possible to upload video with no troubles, add apps, comment, like, share websites, chat, video call, use inbox, create groups and it contains features that other social platform lack. Moreover, Facebook is an effective vehicle for learning because it is a real-life system that engages students as they are interested in virtual settings. Facebook correctly addressed for education could be really meaningful for students as it provides them with factual situations in which they can participate actively applying their knowledge. Finally, Osborne (2012) pointed out that Facebook can potentially appeal to different learning styles, since a learner naturally prefers kinetic, audio or visual learning; the varied types of media and information found on sites such as Facebook can attrack to a wide range of learner styles. Contradicting the benefits of Facebook as an useful classroom tool, Laderer (2012) stated that depending on the students ages and maturity Facebook can become a distraction, since sometimes students immerse themselves in the net forgetting about what is happening in the class, upsetting the learning process. Pittman (2011) said that Facebook is taken more seriously for learning purposes in college more than in high school environment, since there is

a higher risk for cyber bullying; it was informed by the research department of Indiana State University that at least 25% of high school students from Indianas public schools reported to have been harassed via Facebook by bullies, to avoid this it is important to insist on respectful and civil behavior, set rules and consequences. If limits are not clarified, Facebook can become a mean for inappropriate content sharing and posting. Last and most argued reason for disregarding Facebook as good tool for learning is that many people consider that Facebook discourages face- to- face communication because it is thought that although internet is helping students to miss real-life social skills, finding themselves in troubles when having a relationship, presenting an interview or interacting with people. To conclude, it can be mentioned that Facebook is effective for the classroom when certain restrictions are taken into account, with the aim of avoiding risks of mistreatment and misunderstanding of the topics. Facebook use in the classroom should be planned for specific activities under teachers supervision and in young students cases under parents con sent. Facebook is helpful when it comes to encourage students to use alternative materials for learning, as learning English should not be limited to a textbook and a tape.