Tweet Let me start by saying that teachers and students must be careful about using Facebook. They must decide if they really want to be friends with each other and how much they're going to allow the other person to know about their personal lives. One suggestion by Jesse Dwyer http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=137948147130 is to not be friends with students until they graduate. That's a great idea unless you want to do some type of class project. In this case, the same author suggests putting all students into a list and using privacy settings to block the people in that list from seeing personal information. That sounds like a much better idea.
Another way for teachers to keep things private is to create three profiles as suggested in the document at http://org.elon.edu/CATL/conference/documents/FacebookEducation.pdf . One profile is for your real self with your real friends. The second is the one you use with your current students. The third is the one you use with your former students. Students also create a limited profile for you to see. Again, use lists for your classes so you can message them all at once. Groups can also come in handy here. As students join your group, you can post copies of their work or class photos. The authors here suggest you get parent permission before tagging any students in photos.
Status updates can be used as friendly reminders to students. They can also be used to give homework help and hints. Direct messages can be send to students who are absent from class or need that extra dose of encouragement. These status updates are very similar to tweets used in Twitter. http://www.smartschools.ph/SmartSchools/SmartTools/FacebookClassroom.htm
Applications in Facebook can also be used as classroom tools. A site that list 25 Facebook Apps that can be used in education is: http://www.collegedegree.com/library/college-life/15-facebook-apps-perfect-for-online-education
I am not yet familiar with a lot of the applications in Facebook. However, there is one called Farm Town where I see a lot of potential for use in the classroom. You have to save up coins in order to buy things. Once you've bought seeds, for instance, you can plant them, but it costs to plow, plant, and harvest. Fortunately, you make more selling your crops than you spend, if you're a wise consumer. This could lead to lessons in budgeting, consumer mathematics, and even topics in agriculture.
After you've played for a while, you are able to purchase a wider variety of seeds. I, myself, was wondering which crop would give me the better profit. I thought, "What a wonderful math problem for students." Which of these would yield the greater profit:
1. Purchase sunflowers for 115 coins that can be harvested in 3 days and sold for 277 coins.
2. Purchase wheat for 80 coins that can be harvested in 2 days and sold for 180 coins
3. Purchase strawberries for 30 coins that can be harvested in 1 day and sold for 85 coins.
I'm sure this and many of the other applications offer further opportunities for classroom assignments and projects.
All in all, I see Facebook having great potential in the education. However, it must be done with care and concern for the privacy of students and teachers.
Have Fun Teaching is a Facebook fan site where teachers can have discussions and get resources. http://www.facebook.com/havefunteaching