The key to Facebook’s popularity is its ease of use. It makes communicating easy. We can easily share thoughts, ideas and photos with all of our friends and family members, wherever we are and, more importantly, whenever we need to. The same goes when it comes to schoolwork. I have personally used the social media site for my studies in both high school and university. Found a link to share with multiple classmates? Too easy. Collaborating a group project? No problem. Reminding friends of the class test first thing the next morning? Not an issue with Facebook. There’s no wasting valuable study time with tedious phone calls to each individual of the group. Log on, write your message, tag everyone, log off. It’s that simple.
Facebook groups take this one step further. Everyone is added to the group initially and that’s it. No need for tagging, just share material. If you’re worried somebody might steal your work, set it to private, which let’s be honest, isn’t such a bad idea anyway. Comments, photos, documents can all be posted within the group and only be seen the members who have been added into that particular group. Plus they’ll get notifications whenever something new is added; not seeing something is not a valid excuse!
For those of us who don’t have the luxury of having our classmates only a walk down the hallway, Facebook can be a very useful tool, particularly when it comes to complex university group assignments. Everyone can put up specific tasks as they complete them, get immediate feedback and should another member be inclined to do so, edit them with the assistance of google documents. In 2011, 58 percent of students surveyed said they felt comfortable communicating with other students about their coursework over social media. In 2012, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth discovered through a Social Media Adoption study that 98 percent of the colleges they studied were also using Facebook to interact with students.
Facebook was also helpful in my senior year of high school, when teachers were constantly on call to ensure we students obtained the necessary marks to get into the university of our choice. Befriending teachers, particularly the younger, more tech-savvy ones, became a common way to keep up-to-date with deadlines, online resources and other exam tips. Not only could they paste reminders the night before an assessment and know everyone would get the message, they could share website links to official information regarding specific subjects.
There is definitely controversy regarding this. One survey showed that 39 percent of students thought it was inappropriate to communicate with a teacher through social media, while 31 percent said it was appropriate, and 30 percent were neutral. There are also students and teachers sharing mobile phone numbers, but that’s for another time.
Obviously, online communication cannot and never will be a true replacement for real-life, face-to-face communication. It lacks emotion and misinterpretations are certainly something to keep in mind. Four in five people in a 2013 survey said they believed that incivility on social media is on the rise, according to VitalSmarts. In 2011, Pew Research found that 88 percent of teens had witnessed others being cruel to each other on social networking sites.
That doesn’t mean social media can’t be useful. A study published by Abilene Christian University in 2010 showed that active Facebook users were more likely to stay in school —college Freshmen who continued on to their Sophomore year had an average of 27 more friends and 59 more wall posts than students who dropped out.
For me, social networking has made things so much easier. Living over an hour away from my university, it becomes extremely difficult to make it in everyday, especially for brief team meetings that may only last for thirty minutes. It’s just not worth it. Combine this with four different groups working on four different assignments and I might have to work around 15 or so other people. Thinking about it like this, I have no idea how I’d be able to collaborate with everyone without living on campus if it wasn’t for Facebook. Facebook really is the ultimate social network.