Faceoff: Facebook in the Classroom and the Workplace

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Posted At: July 12, 2012 3:04 PM
by Julia Gardial

Way back when in fall of 2007, Platform brought you an article about human interaction using social media. In the bottom of the post, you’ll find a

Facebook Logo
Graphic by Vince Welter

video called “A vision of students today.” While the statistics shown were presumably out of date within a few months of the video’s creation, I think that the content is still relevant to today’s students.

We are more digitally and technologically savvy than ever before, and with the acceptance of computers in the classroom comes the inevitable rise in social media distractions. In a recent article about teachers adopting Facebook in the classroom, Mary Beth Marklein noted that more than two-thirds of students use social media in class.

However, while most will assume that social network usage would be detrimental to a student’s GPA and engagement, studies show that collegians who are active on Facebook see no real decline in grades and, in fact, the online social networking increases overall campus involvement. Facebook in the classroom statistics usually show one thing: students who overuse social media are negatively affected, whereas students who merely check-in for a few minutes aren’t.

So, when we see these statistics, it only makes sense for professors to utilize a tool that their students spend more than 230 minutes a week using. However, I’m sure that the heated debate about whether Facebook has a place in the classroom will go on for some time before it is resolved.

As a student about to graduate, I’m constantly assessing how my education is preparing me for the world. I often find myself in a classroom looking disdainfully at the computer screens around me thinking that my fellow students are missing out on their real-life education by residing so fully in the virtual world. Now, on the verge of entering the workforce, I have to wonder if those same students are graduating, moving on to bigger and better jobs, but taking their collegiate Facebook habits with them.

I can’t help but draw a comparison between social media in the classroom and in the office. Looking around in most lecture halls on a college campus, you can find multiple students on Facebook and other social sites. It’s easy for most collegians to justify their online behavior in class because they already did the reading or they find the class boring.

In the same ways that many debate whether social media should be banned in schools, many also question the validity of allowing employees on social sites. In a time when Facebook and Twitter are used by most businesses, this might seem odd. In fact, if we see a business today without social media sites, we tend to find it odd.

However, as posting practices become more integrated into our daily lives, it’s easy to lose the mental filter that keeps us honest and respectful online. If students are posting inappropriate content in class, who’s to say that they will start posting appropriate content at the appropriate time in the workforce?

I’m not advocating mass bans of social media from college campuses. The fact is that students would find a way around them. I personally feel that universities and professors should start teaching good posting habits in the classroom. Without guidelines, my generation will continue to post updates that could be harmful to their company’s reputations as well as their own.

By allowing for social media in the workplace, you run the risk of inappropriate posts by employees during office hours that could lose you all that social media good will your company has obtained. Then, what about mistaken posts by your social media manager? Not every situation will turn into a good thing, like the Red Cross’s famous Twitter gaffe did.

As social media becomes more deeply integrated into our lives than ever before, it’s important to use college as a time to train for professional habits. Anyone can make a mistake on Hootsuite, but posting recklessly during work and school hours can lead to bad habits that can become crippling for a company over time.

By creating or implementing a social media plan into your company’s culture, you can encourage employees to post in positive ways that help your business, not hinder it. From a student perspective, I encourage my collegiate colleagues to start to practice their own social media guidelines in the classroom. By building these good habits now, the future of social media in the workplace can be an easy transition.

What do you think? Do social media habits in college affect social media in business? How can we start using good social media habits early?

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