10 Reasons Why Schools Shouldn't Block Facebook

Understandably, schools want to make sure students use computers in class for appropriate tasks like taking notes, researching papers or typing up homework assignments. Therefore, Facebook frequently gets blocked to prevent pupils from goofing off. But there are some legitimate ways that this popular social networking site can be used for educational purposes. Education Insider takes a look at ten of the reasons students should be able to access Facebook in school.

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By Jessica Lyons

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1. Facebook can be a source of news.

More and more people turn to Facebook to keep updated on current news. When a big event like a natural disaster happens, many media outlets post stories or photos about what's going on, and those in turn get shared by countless others. By accessing their newsfeeds, students can get a taste of what's going on far beyond which friend just got a yummy coffee at Starbucks and who doesn't want to go to work that day; they can also click on these news stories to find out even more information. It can sometimes be a challenge to get students interested in current events, but with Facebook that might get a little easier.

2. Facebook fosters collaboration.

Facebook can give students a chance to work with other students and teachers. For instance, educators might create specific pages for their classes that they can use to share thoughts, encourage discussions or give tips on homework assignments. A good number of students are probably on Facebook outside of school hours, so this kind of partnering can continue even outside of the classroom. That way, learning doesn't stop when the bell rings.

3. Students have a chance to connect to the world.

It's important for students to learn that a world exists outside of their campus, and Facebook is one way to do so. Although it's necessary for students to be careful when it comes to who they're interacting with and what information they're sharing, Facebook still provides an opportunity for students to reach people all over the globe.

4. Teachers can help keep students engaged.

It's certainly no secret to anyone that students of all ages use technology and spend a great deal of time on social networking sites. By using the tools that students are comfortable with and actually enjoy, schools can help keep them engaged in course material.

5. Facebook could allow for unique approaches to assignments.

If a teacher tells his or her students they have an assignment to work on and then advises them to go to the library and start researching, he or she's likely to produce a lot of groans. If that teacher were to instead instruct students to go on to Facebook to get started, the students might get more excited. As an example, a teacher could tell students to go to their newsfeeds, write down the the first status update they see and use it as inspiration for a creative writing class story.

6. It can prevent Facebook from becoming too much of a distraction.

By letting students use Facebook at school, teachers can help get rid of the temptation to try to sneak in Facebook visits. Blocking or banning the site could mean that students spend a good amount of their time looking for ways to get back on. But if they're allowed to visit during the school day, they can focus on work rather than be distracted by getting around the rules.

7. A chance exists to promote student responsibility.

Sometimes students need to be given the freedom to do things so that they can make their own decisions. In the case of Facebook, students might need to be able to find out for themselves what the appropriate uses for it are and how to balance going on the site with getting their work done. After all, once students are home it's up to them to manage their time properly. School hours could be a good time to start developing these skills.

8. It can encourage students to share their thoughts.

Raising their hand in class to answer a question could be too intimidating for many students. Those students might be more comfortable with contributing by way of posting comments on Facebook, which provides a less stressful forum for sharing one's reactions.

9. Facebook can help students plan their future.

Facebook has a whole host of pages that give information about scholarships, internships, employment and higher education institutions. Students can use these pages during the school day to help prepare for the next step in their education or to find jobs after they graduate. Students are always being encouraged to think about their life goals and do research about their options for reaching them, and Facebook can be a tool for doing just that.

10. Facebook can be a technology recess.

Most schools offer some sort of breather throughout the day, whether it's recess on the playground, a lunch break or a free period. These breaks can serve the necessary purpose of giving students a bit of a rest and a chance to recharge their brains. While some students might want to do this by running around, others may want to just sit and go online for a bit. Why not let students have a sort of technology recess to enjoy Facebook?

While there are benefits to using Facebook in schools, could banning it actually hurt learning?

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