(June 29, 2015) Social-networking sites such as Facebook can help students learn scientific literacy and other complex subjects that often receive short shrift in today’s time-strapped classrooms.
In a first-of-its-kind study, Michigan State University’s Christine Greenhow found that high school and college students engaged in vigorous, intelligent debate about scientific issues in a voluntary Facebook forum.
Such informal learning not only could supplement the content knowledge students acquire in class, but also connect them with professionals and experts in the field, spur interest in careers and inspire civic engagement.
“One of the things we struggle with as educators is how to take students’ spark of interest in something and develop it in ways that can serve them,” said Greenhow, assistant professor of educational psychology and educational technology. “If students had these kinds of niche communities to be part of, in addition to their formal curriculum, that could really provide a rich environment for them.”