Should We Stop Using Facebook for Learning?
Since 2004, Facebook has grown from a networking site for Harvard students to a multibillion-dollar empire encompassing both its flagship platform and newer acquisitions like Instagram and WhatsApp, with billions of users of all ages in every part of the world. In that time, plenty of blogs have been written about Facebook’s potential as a social learning platform.
But, with the revelation that the personal data of at least 50 million users was secretly harvested by a consulting firm working for the Trump campaign, users are having major doubts about whether Facebook can protect their privacy – or if they’re even trying.
So, should organizations forget about using Facebook for learning, or accept that it’s still the top place for people (over 2 billion per month) to connect online?
Based on Sonata Learning’s experience helping organizations deliver training via a range of platforms, including Facebook, we offer the following list of “pro’s” and “con’s”:
Facebook Workplace is a surprisingly inexpensive and feature-rich platform for training and knowledge sharing. Facebook launched its “Workplace” service to encourage organizations to use its platform for internal communications, training and knowledge sharing. While we were initially skeptical, its low cost per user (free for nonprofits), familiar interface and wide range of features (live videos streams, web conferencing for up to 50 participants, file sharing, group management and events) make it a viable option for many training programs.
Most Internet users already have Facebook accounts. The majority of Internet users have Facebook accounts, so onboarding and support should be a non-issue. Plus, hundreds of web apps, including many learning management systems, allow users to sign in using Facebook credentials, saving administrative effort.
Facebook is 100% mobile-friendly, and can be accessed from any device, just about anywhere.
With the recent bad press over user privacy issues, it could be awkward mandating that people use it, as they might have legitimate concerns about how their data is collected, shared and used (and, despite Facebook’s claims that its Workplace service is private and secure, organizations might have concerns, too).
It might not have a future with “Gen Z”. Given its dominance, Facebook may well have nowhere to go but down. 34% of Generation Z (people born after 2000) say that Facebook is “for old people”, and the site lags behind Snapchat and (Facebook-owned) Instagram as young people’s preferred social networking platform, That said, it still has a solid presence among people of working age: 50% of younger millennials (age 18-24) still check their Facebook accounts daily.
It’s a social networking platform, not a learning platform. While many of our clients use Facebook effectively for peer learning and group coaching, it remains a social networking site first and foremost, and organizations seeking to leverage it for learning may have to accept a few limitations.