Using Facebook for ELearning

Facebook-hoaxToday we have a large variety of tools available to us for social learning, the most notable being front-runners Facebook and Twitter. There have been many suggestions on how to use twitter to supplement learning, but less has been written about Facebook supplementing learning efforts – which begs the question: can Facebook be a tool for elearning?

The Good:

Facebook is such a widely used platform that most everyone will have an account, so it becomes easy to network and interact with other virtual students. What’s more, most people know how to use Facebook, so they don’t have to learn yet another platform before learning can take place. It’s also relatively easy to create apps for Facebook, making it a great canvas for developers to add cool new functionality. If you have a nifty Facebook app, you can get users involved pretty quickly.

The Bad:

Facebook isn’t used for learning – plain and simple. In fact, many people use Facebook for the opposite of learning: procrastination. Housing any type of learning program or supplement learning program presents the users with the temptation to wander away from the topic at hand to go browse the new pictures added by their friends from the previous weekend. Learning is usually most effective when the environment can be contained.

The Verdict:

In the end, I don’t believe Facebook is very conducive to elearning. I think this is the result of the very nature of Facebook (which is still hard to pinpoint). Essentially, its roots are in entertainment and escapism. As a result, forcing a productive learning exercise with Facebook isn’t ideal. Perhaps the best way to use this platform is to supplement learning where possible, but it certainly shouldn’t be a driver for any learning initiative.

The Alternative:

If you don’t want to use Facebook for learning, but like the Facebook functionality, you can create a “Facebook like” LMS using the free BuddyPress WordPress plugin. This will allow you to create user profile pages that mirror what Facebook has on their site. Students can leave comments, share interests, and network with others. What’s more, BuddyPress also integrates seamlessly with LearnDash, so creating a robust LMS using WordPress is as easy as clicking button.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

8 Comments
  1. Sure you can create a FB-like environment with BuddyPress. But students are still going to leave this learning platform and wander over to FB to procrastinate. If you design your learning materials well you can deliver them on FB and your audience is right there (almost) all the time. I’m teaching a class right now that is delivered completely on FB. It’s been great, the first-week learning curve normally associated with courses in a traditional LMS didn’t happen. Students jumped in and started working, and they keep working without much prompting from me, and they are engaging with each other at least as much if not more than they did in the traditional LMS. And as the instructor although I find FB lacking in many ways, it is much, much better about letting me know when someone has done something in the class.

    • Hi Carolyn, thank you for the comment. Great to hear about the success you are experiencing with FB as a learning tool – I’m sure there are many who would interested in hearing some of your strategies for making it effective.

    • However you could argue that any online program always has the shortcoming that other websites can be a distraction. I think it is up to the learner to discipline themselves whilst working, same in any environment. If you made the Facebook e-learning with a Facebook ‘app’ you would have to open another tab to browse your Facebook anyway. I think the e-learning process blended with face-to-face training provides a more comprehensive and effective learning experience though.

  2. John

    Hello Justin,
    Congrats for Learndash.It looks pretty cool.
    I wonder if using Leardash to create an LMS can compete with Openenglish.com. Is openenglish.com outsourcing from a company like yours to do what it does?
    Hope to hear your reply.

    • Hi John-
      Thanks for the note. LearnDash can be used to sell any type of training (including language training), no problem. I’m not familiar with OpenEnglish, they don’t have any relation to LD or our products.

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