In Defense of *gasp* Facebook

Now stop. Stop right there. I know what you’re going to say.

“Facebook? Really? Corporate-sellout-advertisement-blitzing-privacy-invading-newsfeed-tweaking-Facebook? You’re defending it?????”

Oh. The horror.

Bombs blowing up new york

Okay, so not end of the world, maybe?

Here’s the deal. I have no great love or hate for Facebook.  It is what it is. A free, stable social media site that is available on every platform, with a complicated set of privacy settings it keeps trying to simplify.

Buyer beware.

As my friend Jane Bozarth says, “If you don’t like it, ask for your money back.”

For those who didn’t (or haven’t yet) raised college age kids in the mid 2000’s forward, you’re forgiven for not understanding. But when the darlin’s leave for school and they stop calling (or answering your calls) because they are too busy, sometimes the only way to keep in touch or have a conversation with them is to exchange a text or read a post on Facebook.

When my son’s college degree was interrupted by a deployment to Iraq in 2007, Facebook kept me reassured of his relative safety, and that he was finding a way to use humor to cope with the stresses of war (which helped me cope with the stresses of being a soldier’s mom).

soldier in front of broken truck with sign that reads I can fix it

And last summer, when I went to my 30th high school reunion, I spent the weekend with contemporary friends rather than strangers who I once knew 30 years ago.  The experience was so much richer because we had current shared experiences as well as past ones – even though the current ones had been virtual.  (And where a funny image from 1984 – top photo –  could then become the running joke and gold standard by 2014 – bottom photo).

Everyone turned facing backward in bottom photo

What does all of this have to do with this blog’s blatherings about teaching, learning, and higher ed?


When I participate in awesome open learning experiences like Mike Caulfield‘s  Fedwiki Happening or stumble into the new-to-me world of Rhizomatic learning that is Dave Cormier‘s  #Rhizo15, I do so because I have interest not-so-much in the openness of the learning, but in the connectedness of the learning experience (and it’s rather difficult to have the one without the other).

 I am challenged by the research being done and shared by the big R1 schools, and “the University Of’s” , and the Ivy Leaguers, and the international schools through these open learning opportunities. The Big Schools have big staffs and big budgets to implement big thoughts.  I enjoy the experience of connecting with these big thinkers, the creative thinkers, and the outlandish thinkers all.

I, however, work in a small community college in a forgotten part of the southeast corner of Washington State.  We don’t do research. And we aren’t selective. Every 10 weeks, we educate anyone who walks through the door, which means we offer a lot of developmental math and English, ESL, ABE, I-BEST, and the rest of the alphabet soup of programs meant to take people from where they are and get them to a decent paying job or on their way to a four year school.

So this is where I fork Amy Collier‘s Not-yetness and suggest that perhaps we need to make room for a bit of a continuum of emergence. The ideas of not-yetness at an MIT or Standford are so far beyond the realm of my little community college that they would intimidate or even shut down emerging technology discussion for all but a few of the most technologically-edgy of faculty at my school.

But Facebook, good ol’ Facebook, almost the grandpa of social media now, is a kind of “not-yetness” on my campus. (Not to mention it has a nearly flat-line learning curve which is important for a 10 week quarter). The idea of opening a class to social media of any kind is not-yetness here. The use of Facebook groups is not-yetness here. The connectedness of letting outsiders participate with students in a class via Facebook is very not-yetness here.

It’s learning.

It’s connecting.

It’s kind of messy.

And it’s definitely not-yetness. Here. On my end of the continuum.

Note: In Cormier’s opening post to #Rhizo15 he states, “FacebookI have so many mixed feelings about Facebook… but i do know that it totally works for some people. The course group for #rhizo15 is at

It’s okay, Dave. The posts are flying in the RhizoFbGroup. And so far, it’s the only place I’ve connected with #Rhizo15. It seems Rhizo’s not-yetness in Facebook is just about now.


Filed under teaching and learning

6 responses to “In Defense of *gasp* Facebook

  1. Lisa, love this defense of Face Book. Though the conversations can seem fractionated on the single scrolling page they seem to hold together much better than asynchronous email and for sure on Google drive. If it’s about conversations then FB is the place.


  2. Lovely post, Lisa. Happy to have u here 🙂 off to explore the not-yetness thing

    Love the depth of context u managed to put in this post. And the distinction but integration between openness and connection. Was just reading earlier (can’t remember where) that we should target connecting ppl and the sharing will come naturally but i am not sure. I think you’re right that openness and connection feed off each other to work well


  3. francesbell

    Love your post Lisa – especially the part about a continuum of emergence. I don’t think there is a lot of harm in one off uses of Facebook Groups in formal education but as part of a larger trend it seems important to look at what is and might be happening


  4. As is often mentioned with regards to social sites, the relative value of this or that platform is for the most part bound up in who else is there. I say this as someone who in the last two months has hard pivoted from a daily Twitter user who rarely looked at Facebook to someone who lurks occasionally on Twitter and is commenting and liking on Facebook daily.

    What happened? I was involved in a project (OK, it was a community theater production) the social media side of which is a Facebook group. Since my 40 newest friends live on Facebook, not Twitter, I’m there all the time now.

    It’s like Chase Jarvis’s line about photography, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” I can configure known to allow me to POSSE my comments, but the people I want to communicate probably won’t go to the trouble.


  5. I find it interesting because I am not on FB and only hear parts of the conversations. I am ok it’s that … It is my choice but still intriguing how a course with no center can have so many constellations.


    • Lisa Chamberlin

      Yes, we miss you in there. If we did an analysis for the phrase “@dogtrax really should be here to see this” – the numbers would be high.


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