Designing for Flexibility

Adult learners and social media in VET: They're all talking in Facebook!

myspaces, yourspaces, ourspaces online

external image 3297533849_a32573b118_m.jpg
[CC FlickR image by A.Strakey]


'The immutable, stand-alone website is dead. Say hello to a web that increasingly looks like a library full of chatty components that interact and talk to one another.' (Don Tapscott and Anthony.D.Williams in Wikinomics p.38)

We are social beings. We network with others for company, to learn, for affirmation, to/for support, to share.
Consider the social networks your parents were active in. These may have included parenting groups, sporting groups, the church, the CWA, Rotary/Apex/Lions clubs etc.
What social networks are you a part of? How has this changed in the past decades?

With the internet and the growing prevalence of smartphones we can be connected to friends and relatives and causes 24/7.
This brings huge potential to expand and enrich the learning and connections of our students. It also brings new issues and considerations.
In this topic we'll look at these opportunities and considerations.


Pursue one of the social media options below:

If you've been toying with the idea of creating a Facebook account now might be a good opportunity!
There's a good guide for account settings on the Facebook Safety site and also good information on basic privacy settings and tools
Consider your Facebook identity. Although it's quite an old resource now there are some good options to consider in A teachers guide to using Facebook - a Scribd publication by Bernadette Rego [2009]

How might you use Facebook with your courses?

1. Ensure you are familiar with the current DEC social media policy -
2. Consider your own policy in regard to student's 'friend' requests. It is best to make this clear and consistent up front.Many teachers simply say that they will not 'friend' students and that they will engage ONLY via a Group.
3. Consider creating a Group for your course.
This is a good way to share files, resources, schedule events, answer questions etc. Yes, you can do this in Moodle but which will your students use?
Have a look at this (student run) Gymea Ceramics Studio group. What benefit would a teacher/ expert bring?

If you teach in an area with a strong visual/design element you may like to explore FlickR, the online image storage and sharing space.
In FlickR your students can:
  • create a personal account that they own and can manage beyond their life at TAFE - basic accounts are free and can be expanded to PRO accounts at low cost
  • upload, describe, and 'tag' image files or short videos - these might be progress shots from projects, designs etc
  • annotate each image with hotspots and text - to highlight elements etc
  • add contacts - people who work in the same field whose work they admire. New work uploaded by contacts appears on your students homepage.
  • join class/course GROUPS managed by you - the students can send selected images for viewing within the group space (final assessment items etc)
Robyn Jay has a comprehensive guide to using FlickR in education on her wiki.


This topic will be discussed in a synchronous Adobe Connect session

Background reading

Blame game - Tom Whitby

Should schools be teaching social media

Facebook as an Instructional Technology Tool - EmergingEdTech [2010]

Facebook in the classroom. Seriously - EmergingEdTech [2011]

100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom -

Facebook safety centre

Facebook Safety team has published a very useful guide entitled "Facebook for Educators and Community Leaders" to inform educators about the educational use of Facebook and also help adults be supportive partners so that teens make safe, smart and responsible choices throughout the online world.

George Siemens, (2011), Losing interest in social media: there is no there there

Additional supporting information

Diigo Group tagged resources




Relevant Thought Leader Series interviews

Relevant TAFE NSW eHub eCommunities


The activities and documented reflections for this topic provide useful partial evidence for:
TAEDEL501A: Facilitate e-learning
TAEDES501A: design and develop learning strategies
TAEPDD501A: maintain and enhance professional practice