Brief

Facebook testing new features to turn site into platform for online education

Dive Brief:

  • Managers of Facebook groups listed as a class or school have noticed that the site now has an option where they can upload course units that can also track progress, reports Inside Higher Ed
  • The program is actually the company's initiative to connect developers together, in a program known as Developers Circle; Facebook has teamed up with Udacity to develop training programs for them on artificial intelligence and internet-connected devices, but other users in the education space have noticed that these features are available more widely. 
  • Facebook has not definitively said whether these features were intended to turn the site into a platform for online learning; rather, a Facebook spokesperson had said that the company is still "testing" them. 

Dive Insight:

The popularity of online learning and online education services is constantly growing. At the higher education level, the report WCET Distance Education Enrollment 2016, found that from 2002 to 2014, the number of students enrolled in one or more distance online education courses increased from 1.6 to 5.8 million students. And in K-12 education, more and more schools are adopting 1:1 policies, where each student must be given or acquire a laptop, tablet, or equivalent device to use in their courses, as teachers increasingly assign online homework and assessments. In terms of the top ed tech trends facing K-12 — which include chromebooks, blending learning, wireless and cloud-based multimedia, interoperability, and IoT devices — a platform on social media fits into a movement toward online learning services. 

Whether using a site like Facebook to teach courses would be successful is unclear, as the company is still testing the features. Currently, the features on the website are missing several key components that would be necessary for online education, such as a grade book. Moreover, instructors may be afraid of using the site, as it may expose students to data mining geared toward advertising, reports Inside Higher Ed. Facebook, however, would not be the first online networking site to turn toward education, as Google has already adopted a similar online learning strategy with Google Classroom, which has gained popularity in the K-12 space. 

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Filed Under: Higher Ed K12 Technology Online Learning
Top image credit: Flickr; Alan Levine