Teaching with Facebook

Reginald Miles, M.A.

January 25, 2011


An Assistant Professor in the Department of Radio, TV, and Film, Reginald Miles won CETLA's 2010 Teaching with Technology Award for his integration of Facebook and podcasting to enhance teaching and learning in his radio production classes. After introducing podcasting in his class, Professor Miles incorporated Facebook to expand the use of podcasting. A web-based tool for connecting with others, Facebook enables users to share text, images, video, audio, and hyperlinks with anyone who "friends" them and to alert their friends automatically each time they update their profiles. With more than 500 million active users recorded by the website by the fall of 2010, Facebook has truly become the face of the social networking technology known as "Web 2.0." Indeed, it is its ubiquity among young people that led Professor Miles to consider harnessing it as teaching tool.

Compared to the average Howard professor, Miles had certain advantages when he turned to podcasting. With 20 years of experience in the broadcast industry, he was a skilled announcer, audio engineer, and production director. Therefore, it was not surprising that Miles launched a podcast, "The Teacher in the Pocket," during the Fall 2006 semester. However, he ventured into uncharted territory when he adopted Facebook for his classes.

Discovering that nearly all of his students accessed Facebook regularly, he set up a Facebook account where only students in his class could "friend" him. Once a class had joined his Facebook group, he began to supplement his in-class lectures by posting assignments, deadlines, test dates, and links to his blog and podcasts on Facebook. Then he notified students about the updates with the click of a mouse. Best of all, his students were able to link their audio assignments from their podcasting sites to the Facebook "Wall." Says Miles, "This created a virtual audio community where the students were able to listen and hear each other's productions and not incur the cost of buying CDs to submit assignments." That alone made his effort worthwhile.

NOTE: This video explains how professors can protect their privacy when teaching with Facebook. However, to protect students' privacy, professors should advise students to choose settings that will restrict the professors' access to the students' Facebook pages.

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