If there were one experience from my time here at UVU, it would be when I took the opportunity to talk about a random quote in a speech class. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarke said that, and it has stayed with me for years. I stood at the front of the classroom, phone in hand, trying to best capture the, well, magic of that statement. I presented to people who didn’t seem to get it. Some may have, but generally it seemed that people didn’t understand just how amazing it is that you can send an order for food out into space, and it will be waiting when you get to the restaurant. People have become too acclimated to technology being a part of their everyday lives.
That really isn’t the issue here though. The issue is the reliance on technology for everything we do. The need to stay connected with everything we do, and that brings up one of the largest tools for staying connected in today’s society, Facebook.
Like it or not Facebook is huge. With an expected billion users by August, Facebook is probably one of the better ways to socially network and share your experiences with friends and sometimes, against your better judgment, family.
Facebook has also been playing a large role in education. From bringing groups together, to allowing teachers to better reach their students, Facebook is furthering the cause of education to provide students with a better learning experience, one they can share with each other, and the world. Though that may sound like a wonderful idea without any drawbacks, there are a few small problems with the use of Facebook in an educational setting.
The most obvious problem is classroom use. Facebook use in the classroom itself is disruptive and can impede learning. I am not sure if any statistics are available yet to expand on this idea; this is more of a personal experience type of thing.
Merely sitting in class listening can get boring sometimes, so Facebook gets opened. You see a couple of friends online and start to chat with them. It’s a big class, so it’s unlikely the teacher will notice what you’re doing at all. You play a few games, the rhubarb is ready for harvest, and then you look at the time. Class is almost over, and you haven’t really been paying attention because you’ve been on your computer for the last hour and a half. Maybe you do that once a week or so, it doesn’t hurt too much. Until you realized you missed something way back when that you needed for this test that you just heard about.
Most teachers don’t allow phones or the use of Facebook in their classrooms, and that’s why. If you’re paying attention to Facebook, you’re not paying attention to them, and teachers are notorious attention hogs, plus they want to help you succeed in life and stuff like that. Help them help you, stay off the Facebook in class.
While Facebook does help bring groups together, and allows them to connect much better than traditional means, this isn’t exactly a positive either. You see, when you think your group is all on the same page, and on Facebook people are saying they are getting their work done, and it seems like the group is moving as smoothly as can be, there is usually a small hiccup that occurs when you all meet in person to put it all together. People tend to exaggerate, or lie, when they don’t have to look someone in the eye.
This may not be true for all groups, as some genuinely do what they need to do to get the project done right and on time. But some members may just coast, telling others on Facebook they have their section done because it’s easier to tell a box on a screen that they’ve done something they really haven’t. Facebook creates a disconnect between the person and their profile. It’s easy to tell a box a lie, but it’s much harder when you need to show the person actual proof that the job is getting done. Facebook creates an illusion of work that is shattered the second the group meets up and realizes no one has actually done anything, except the guy that made the group, because he was the only one motivated enough to really work for that A-grade.
Facebook is a wonderful tool for sharing photos with your friends. It’s also a nice way to have a quick chat with someone you haven’t seen in a while. But when you inject Facebook into education things tend to get a little dicey. It’s not all bad; you just have to temper your behavior, which a lot of us have shown that we aren’t ready for yet.
It’s important to remember that while technology is important to society, too much magic is never a good thing.
By Cameron Simek