Facebook pages in HE


Well I have started my new teaching post at Durham University and one of the first things I’ve been asked to investigate is setting up a Facebook  page for the Foundation Centre , where I work.

This could be a great informal space for students to share information and socialise before they arrive (and have formal university identities), whilst they are with us and even after they leave (often to continue as Durham students). If we can successfully create a community of FC students this could be useful for feedback and even marketing and promotion. So an exciting prospect.

I’ve knocked up a few words to pass around the centre and I present the nub of it here for any comment or suggestions. I’d really welcome any feedback, including further good examples of facebook use in education.

Proposal:

Create a facebook page for the FC where students and staff can share pictures and web pages/ links and engage in informal discussions. This could also act as an additional channel to communicate relevant information to students and promote the FC externally, and pre-empt informal groups from gaining traction.

NB: By becoming a fan of the page users will NOT be sharing any personal or private information other than their name and photo.

Examples:

  • Durham University Library site. 1,100 fans. Used to communicate library information, there are some fairly active discussion threads (e.g. asking for feedback about the library). Also fans can use FB to query the library catalogue and access resources.
  • OU site. 26k fans. This page is used frequently for informal contact between students on the same course and has very active discussion boards.
  • Warwick University site. 6k fans. Active discussion boards, but also links to the university’s video channel on YouTube.

Pros:

  • Many students will already have facebook profiles and be actively engaging with this platform.
  • Can be useful for informal communications between students and help them settle in and share information about Durham/ Stockton
  • Could be useful for marketing and promotion activities
  • FC staff will have a strong level of direct control over content

Cons:

  • Could require a lot of staff time to monitor/ moderate postings
  • Privacy and security issues. FC *could* be liable if harassment/ bullying occurred, AFAIK this has not been legally tested. Could be mitigated by being clear about lines of responsibility and active moderation.
  • Not sure if Durham has a social media strategy and how this would play in to that.
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About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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