Key Features and Few Concerns of Facebook Classes: #IloveUkrEng Trial.
Dr. Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov
I recently participated in the unique trial program to test Facebook classes and created a new course #ILoveUkrEng that will be formally launched in January 2022.
During the trial period, we met with a few future students and language educators on Facebook classes to test unique features and plan the delivery of #ILoveUkrEng to teach Ukrainian language for English speakers using an online platform.
This article will summarize key features and a few concerns of Facebook Classes that are useful to know for educators who are willing to share their knowledge via social media.
- Facebook classes are easy to create for Facebook users. If you already have a Facebook page you can create a paid or free Facebook class. Facebook class is part of the Facebook event creation feature, where one can choose to deliver a one-time class or series of classes under one event umbrella. Here is a detailed guide on how to create a Facebook class: https://www.facebook.com/help/397029634833829/
- Facebook classes have several privacy options and concerns. Privacy is a challenging concept to practice in online world. I will not recommend using Facebook classes if you have any privacy concerns. I haven’t tested any privacy options, except the one listed below and reminded all my students that any information posted on Facebook is public. I have limited knowledge of what information is collected by Facebook about course participants and interactions in Facebook classes. I hope Facebook will offer more information for educators who plan to use Facebook classes to address their privacy concerns. At this stage, there are four privacy options for events:
- Private: Visible only to the people who are invited. You can choose to allow guests to invite their friends. People who are invited can see the event description, photos, posts and videos.
- Public: Visible to anyone on or off Facebook. Anyone can see the event description, photos, event discussion and videos.
- Friends: Visible only to your Facebook friends. Your friends can see the event description, photos, posts and videos.
- Group: The group privacy setting determines who can see the event.
- Facebook classes offer several event formats. I only used the integrated Facebook room feature of the classes, but one can try three different ways to run Facebook classes:
- Facebook Live: Live stream events, performances, gatherings and more on Facebook. Viewers can watch from a phone, computer or connected TV. Facebook Live videos are recorded and saved to the event page. A great way to promote your event is by asking course participants to share live coverage links on their Facebook page to expand the audience for your event.
- External Link: Add a link to a third-party site or app where guests can watch the event. Because the event happens off Facebook, make sure to include anything the guests may need to know in the event description. A great way to integrate Zoom and use Facebook Classes as one way to promote your Zoom classes.
- Other: There is no video link or join button for this type of event, so make sure you explain how to participate in the event description. For example, a moment of silence at a specific time or set time aside for a book club to read. Any creative ways to engage the participant in your event, can be used for any land-based classes
- Facebook Classes might have glitches. As Facebook is in trial mode, you might experience some glitches. The purpose of the trial was to find some of the glitches, so hopefully, once Facebook classes improve, educators will not experience glitches when creating the event. Still, if you experience a glitch, Facebook has a support team that can answer your questions. If you experience any issues using Facebook Classes, please report them by either shaking your mobile phone or selecting the drop-down menu beside your Facebook profile picture. Giving details (example: adding a screenshot and description) helps Facebook find the problem. More information on how to report issues here: https://www.facebook.com/help/186570224871049. I want to thank all Facebook support team, and Phillip, an Admin from Trial Facebook Classes Support Community, for all the guidance and making the experience engaging and answering all the questions and demonstrating exceptional support services.
- Facebook Classes messenger rooms are great for chats: Instructors and learners in Facebook classes can communicate in Messenger chats automatically created at the beginning of a class (a one-time event) or course (a series of classes). The same chat is used throughout an entire course of classes. Be careful about what you write in Facebook chat, as it is not always clear what you can do once the message is posted. I reminded my students that anything they post on a messenger becomes public knowledge and Facebook record. I do not know how to delete it, so hopefully, Facebook will write an article on posting in Messenger and what happens to the messages once the class ends. What we know so far that chats attached to classes or courses will:
- Appear in the Chats list in Messenger
- Include people registered in the class and show their personal Facebook profiles
- Be administered by the instructor who creates the class or course
- Be limited to chat admins and those registered in the class, and not open to any other people, even after the class has ended
- Remain open for continued communication after the class has ended
Note: As I have used video rooms on Messenger, the same chat attached to the class is used in the video room, meaning that messages sent in the room will also be visible to everyone in the class chat, even after the room ends. Like any other group chat, you can leave a class chat anytime without being removed from the class or course and rejoin the chat from the Event page. If you withdraw from the class or course, you will be automatically removed from the chat. More information about the use of chats in Facebook classes can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/help/messenger-app/1683630481846786
- Facebook Classes Rooms has a number of cool features to support your teaching. The classes Trial Program team realesed a cool video to help instructors start their first class, which I hope will become public after the trial ends. The video shared some features that will help enrich instructor and student experience in using Facebook classes. When using Facebook Classroom, it is possible to share updates and files with your classes through messenger chat. One can also open and share images, files and links during lectures, create and share polls with students, set timers to control the pace and flow of discussions, mute participants when needed, and use breakout sessions and annotations in future. I had a small class, so we haven’t used breakout rooms and annotations. I also hope Facebook classes will have a live transcript, the ability to share videos outside of Facebook with integrated sound and have more similar features from Zoom, such as waiting room, enhanced screen share, controls on who can share, post etc. There is a lot of space to grow in the Facebook classroom, but the basic features can allow educators to start teaching. Do not expect that all features you have used in Zoom or Google Meet are available in Facebook classes.
Facebook Classes can become an alternative to Zoom, Google Meet and other tools to share knowledge with students worldwide. Accessibility and reach to the Facebook audience is a big plus, and the ability to have a dedicated room to meet will allow learning to happen. However, the privacy concerns related to the use of social media need to be addressed. Both instructor and students need to be aware of what happens with the course content, who can access the personal information of course participants, and how privacy is communicated to both students and instructors to create a safe learning environment for all. I will be looking forward to supporting the Facebook team as I want education to be accessible to all. Thanks to Facebook classes, some educational content can now be delivered globally and connect Facebook users in a new way through Facebook Classroom.