Facebook as a professional development resource/platform


This post is for my colleagues considering the use for Facebook as a professional development platform. At some time soon I will post on using Facebook with students.

Facebook is used for social connections around the world, however it is also a great platform for professional development. Facebook has the capacity for you to “meet” others with similar interests and come together in “Groups” to discuss and share those interests. It is particularly important with Facebook that you understand and use your privacy settings so that you know who sees your posts. You also need to keep an eye on the Facebook settings because Facebook sometimes reverts things to defaults – especially what appears in your Newsfeed.

Fb1Getting started

1. Go to the Facebook website and sign up. Facebook expects you to use your own name and this is the preferred option anyway if you are using Fb for professional development. I have a second completely separate Fb account (using my work email) that I use for any student interaction.

2. Once you have signed up it is important to complete at least part of your profile ideally including an image (avatar). There is much discussion about what is appropriate in terms of images. If you are using Facebook largely for PD then a photo is probably best, alternatively a cartoon image that you can create with a tool such as Mangatar.

3. Now it’s time to start “Friending” people and/or joining Groups and posting! These are two  Facebook groups for VET sector educators:

  • VET Training and Assessment Networking opportunity for VET trainers and assessors across all Industry groups
  • FS Teach Specialist group for Foundation Skills (LLN and Employability Skills) practitioners

There are many other educator groups globally and a lot of these are cross-sectoral, here are just  few:

  • Educators using Facebook  For educators to share resources ,experiences ,teaching opportunities , educational innovations , best practices and other useful links with other educators
  • FacingIT   A group managed by Australian educators for anyone facing up to the challenges of using information technologies for communicating, teaching and learning.
  • Apps for Education  This group was started so that educators can share any apps that they use for education.

For industry connections look up your own industry area in the Facebook search to find groups relevant to your industry.

Some privacy and security points

I use one Facebook account for personal purposes and professional development. If you mostly use groups for your pd then your personal connections won’t get all your pd type posts. I use a second account to keep my student interaction separate and the two accounts are not “Friends” with one another.

It is particularly important with Facebook that you understand and use your privacy settings so that you know who sees your posts.

You also need to keep an eye on the Facebook settings because Facebook sometimes reverts things to defaults – especially what appears in your Newsfeed. If it doesn’t say “Viewing most recent stories” under the box where you type your post then you will be seeing “Top posts” ie the most popular. To correct this and see all posts from your connections go to the left hand column and look at the dropdown beside “Newsfeed” (top menu item under your avatar). Choose “Most recent” then you will see all posts from those you are connected to.

Your groups are listed on the left hand side, to see posts and to post in the groups you need to be on the group page.


This post is just about getting started and finding some potentially useful groups for professional development and networking. If you have any questions please  comment on this post and ask your question in the comment.

Two Edublogs webinar overviews – Fb privacy & Google power search


This overview covers our two most recent webinars. This first was a Serendipity session where we discussed Facebook privacy sessions and the flow-on effects that happen between accounts. The second webinar (a FineFocus) was inspired by the recent short course in “Power Searching” from Google.

Serendipity – Facebook privacy settings

In this session, recorded as always, we discussed issues around Facebook privacy settings. This arose from one of the group recounting an experience where a family member had changed something in their profile and this had had a knock on effect on other people’s accounts.

Facebook privacy (and other) settings seem to cause issues for many people. We took a “walk” through some of these and shared how we try to use them.

They do seem inordinately complex. For example I am not entirely sure what would happen in terms of my privacy if I ticked the boxes in the window shown above. Personally I don’t use any apps and games, and I think I have all these things turned off but I am not really sure!

This was an interesting session. My concern is that if a group of quite “techie” and social network savvy people have trouble “getting our heads” around Facebook’s privacy and other settings what chance does the average user have!

FineFocus – Are you a “Power Searcher”

The second session, again recorded, was a look at some of the search features that were explored in the recent “Power Searching with Google” course that I joined. Although the interactive (forum posting) parts of the course have finished the content and activities are still available.  I was already a fairly sophisticated searcher using many of the tools explored but I enjoyed the course immensely and certainly learned some new ideas.

Once the scene setting was complete I started as I so often do with some “where are you coming from” activities, including a question about current favourite search tricks and strategies.


Most of the session was taken up with brief explorations and opportunities to “play with” some of the search options that I had found interesting in the course. However there was also some discussion about how we see different results and even differenct tools depending on which Google domain you are searching through. For example the “.com.au” domain gives different results to the “.com” domain. My preference is usually to use “.com” so we looked at how to force this – Google is very persistent in forcing the search into your country domain, often just typing the “.com” domain doesn’t work and the domain reverts back to the country.

We took a look at some basic search points straight from the Google course these being choice of words and the order. Then we moved on to look at images (colour filtering and finding a specific image). Next we explored the right hand information panels that appear with some searches. These are not visible in search outputs from all Google domains. They can be seen in “.com” but not (at the moment) in “.com.au”.  We finished off with a look at the “SearchResearch” blog where there is regular weekly search puzzle and an image search on “Yarn bombing” – try that one yourself if you haven’t heard the term :).

The session worked really well – quite fast paced, with a blend of whiteboard activities, app share for examples and opportunities try out the tools. Certainly for me the hour flew by!


Both of these sessions were great to be part of. As always privacy issues are of huge concern to us all, so sessions on this are always very worthwhile because they heighten awareness. The power search session was fun and hopefully also informative.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday August 2nd at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday August 3rd at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic

Edublogs webinar overview – “Facebook won’t go away!”


This Fine Focus session, recording here, was similar to one I did recently with colleagues. I am currently introducing some Web2.0 tools to some of my colleagues and Facebook is one of these.

The Session

The session was fun! I used video and application share,I  had intended a web tour also but BbC wasn’t co-operating so the web-tour became another applicaion share. We started with some general discussion about Facebook and moved on to some of the uses and pros and cons of using with students – including the fact that it is a “place” where many students already “hang out”.

Next we took a look at some of the practicalities of using Facebook in education and the issues around privacy and confidentiality. This included a look at the practicalities of having a second account and the advantages of groups over fan pages. We finished with a quick look at the need for management by group owners to ensure that behaviour remains acceptable.


I felt that I talked too much in this session – something I often feel to be the case when I am the “presenter” as well as the facilitator.  However text chat was active and there was great input on whiteboards so the session seemed to be effective. Also as usual I tried to include too much! So the session was a bit rushed towards the end.

Next Webinar

Our next session facilitated by Tracy Watanabe (@tracywatanabe) one of our regular participants will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday November 10that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday November 11th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual Elluminate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs webinar overview – Social Media With Students?


This Fine Focus session was really a spin-off from last week’s Serendipity session where we touched on using Twitter with students but didn’t really have time to explore the issues. This was a great session with lots of whiteboard activity and as usual the session was recorded.

The Session

Although the session title refers to “social media” this is such a massive topic that I focussed on social networking with students and chose what are probably the two most well known and widely different from one another social networks – Twitter and Facebook. I then added in GooglePlus because although this is very new I suspect it will ultimately be extensively used with students because of the way circles can be used.

We started with some polling to find out where everyone was “coming from” on using social networks with students. Next we set the scene with a brief look at some recent items on social netwroks with students including two short videos. This led on the the quesion of whether we should use this type of tool with students – the poll result was a resounding “Yes” and we quickly filled a whiteboard with the positives and negatives.

The next considerations were the contexts and circumstances in which we might use social networking with our students. This was followed by sharing how (if we currently do) we use one or more of these with students. We finished with a poll on whether we now felt it was more likely that we would use these with students. There is also a slide with live links for the videos and some other items of interest for social networking with students.


This session worked well – it followed a similar pattern to most of the other discussion type topics that I facilitate in Fine Focus sessions. As is often the case I felt that I talked too much, however everyone seemed to enjoy the session. The use of video was something I don’t do often – although I have recently been showing colleagues how to incorporate it via the multimedia window. It worked fairly well although the videos did not play for one participant despite being mp4 and so likely to be playable by the majority of people. This is one of the reasons that I tend to avoid video the other is bandwidth and download time issues. Even though both videos were small files they still took considerable time to download to participants after they joined the room, so it isn’t a good idea to play videos very early in the session. However I will be trying to include more video because I feel it is something I need to become more familiar with.

Next Webinar

Our next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday September 15that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday September 16th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual Elluminate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic

Overview Edublogs webinar – Face to Facebook!


In this Edublogs Fine Focus session (recording here) Jane Curry (@parrpakala on Twitter) introduced us to the way she is using Facebook to enhance and improve the learning experience for “English as a Second Language” learners. This was an exciting session not only because of the way that Jane is incorporating Facebook but because she also included some of her students in the session. Jane teaches English as a second language at Swinburne TAFE (public vocational education) in Melbourne,  Victoria, Australia. Jane’s students are migrants/refugees. Migrants to Australia have an entitlement to some  English language classes when they arrive. The programme usually used is the Certificates in Spoken and Written English (CSWE). This is multi level and outcomes based, students need to demonstrate that they can read, speak and write to the relevant level. So any opportunity to practise reading, writing or other forms of communication in different ways is very welcome.

The Session
Jane started the session by telling us a little about her students and their backgrounds. Facebook is a relatively recent introduction, the students also participate in a class blog. Jane talked about her reasons for using Facebook and also some of the advantages in that it allowed easy communication between the students, volunteer mentors and lecturers. It was also easy for two organisations, CMY and Foundation House that provide support for the students, to join in through Facebook. Jane shared her desktop to show us the group’s Facebook page …


and also demonstrated how she uses live chat with her students. There were a variety of questions and ideas raised in text chat around the practicalities of using Facebook particularly with second language learners and privacy issues relating to its use. Jane responded to these during the session. The highlight was when two of Jane’s students bravely joined her at the microphone and answered some questions from us about: where they were from; what they though about using Facebook; and whether they had Facebook friends elsewhere.


This session was very exciting as it is the first time we have had students taking part in this way and I think that both Jane and her students were very brave to be prepared to do this. Jane did a great job, she has not had the opportunity to join many sessions as her class coincides with webinar times and this was her very first session as a moderator. As always this overview gives only a taste of the session. For the full “flavour” catch the recording.

Next Week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session, one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic of the day. If you want to propose a topic in advance then visit the Serendipity Wallwisher and add your topic. Then join us on Thursday Nov 11th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (6pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday Nov 12th at 1am CEST, 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room

In the Future

If you are a regular visitor to our webinars you will know that we alternate “Fine Focus” sessions on specific topics with “Serendipity” the unconference sessions where we choose a topic by poll at the start of the session. Sometimes the very fact of being asked for “hot topics” or other ideas for discussion or learning tends to make our minds blank. This has prompted me to start a Serendipity Wallwisher for topic suggestions. Please visit the wall and add your ideas for Serendipity topics so that we have more choices to consider. Some of these ideas might also form the basis for future “Fine Focus” sessions.