Sunday, February 20, 2011

Facebook App Increasing Schools' Retention Rates?

While doing some work this week, I came across this article "Can Social Networking Keep Students in School" and was quickly interested in the topic.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $2 million dollars to Inigral which is a company “trying to build virtual college communities by creating school-based Facebook sites” in order to help decrease college drop out rates.  It’s called the School App.  At first I thought this was similar to Facebook’s newly accepted student groups that are usually created by students and anyone could join it.  However, the School App only allows current and future students to join the page.  Their aim is to create a virtual community for new students before they step foot on campus. Students create a quick profile of their likes and interests and then search using interests to meet new friends. Groups and organizations can also use the School App to advertise their information and upcoming meetings and events.  The School App provides students with connections before the big move-in to ease the transition of going away to school. 

To me, they are not reinventing the wheel.  They are taking existing ideas from Facebook and making it better to meet students’ needs.  I personally love the idea because I remember joining those newly accepted student groups and felt so lost with all the students who joined.  And for most college students, Facebook is how a lot of students communicate with each other.  During my undergrad, I was constantly on Facebook.  It was where I connected with friends, posted pictures, shared news articles, or just went on to take a break from school.  For my Digital Media class, my professor used Facebook as if it was blackboard.   She posted the syllabus, zips files of the week’s work, and even messaged us our grades.  It was awesome!  And I really wish more teachers would incorporate Facebook in education. 

So what do you all think?  Check out Inigral’s website and see how it is being used on college campuses.  It will be hard to prove that it is improving schools’ retention rate because when students leave, they usually leave for multiple reason, not just for social reasons.  Do you think it has the potential to improve schools retention’s rates?  And also what do you think of incorporating Facebook in the classroom?

1 comment:

  1. I think facebook could be a good tool, but in what sense? Is this purely for social reasons? Is this an effort to help ease people into new a new social environment? IF so then what better way. I suggest that all students heading off to college already have a facebook page so why not just integrate an integral part of their lives (INEGRAL - well done I see what you did there). But my question s why are they dropping out? I suspect that it is somewhat financial but also academic. I think what ed tech should do is take what is existing and mold it into an educational vehicle. Getting your work via facebook makes the transition from high school to college easier in the sense that they know how to use facebook, there on it all the time, and it familiar to them might decrease dropout rates.
    I think using facebook in the classroom makes sense. Why reinvent the wheel (Blackboard). My question would be, would mixing academic and
    social life work? Would it be too much for high school students in the sense of concentration and focus? In terms of teachers, where is the line with interacting with students at school and online?