Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Using FaceBook

I'm trying to expand my horizons a bit these days and have been taking a closer look at a whole bunch of tools out there, including SecondLife and FaceBook.

FaceBook seems like such a student-world application, and yet folks say more and more "grown-ups" are using it. There was a great NYTimes article a few weeks ago about a mom signing up for a FaceBook account, completely appalling her teenage daughter. (I'd go look up the link for you, but why bother? You'd have to be a paying customer...)

My kids are far from their teen years, so I went ahead and created my own FaceBook account awhile back. I initially had just one friend, who I think had joined to find a FaceBook dating scene that didn't exist. It didn't feel like FaceBook would have a lot of professional promise.

Then, just this week, Michele Martin asked me to be her FaceBook friend and I felt like I'd been promoted to the popular kids' club. We traded emails and I wrote a message on her wall. That's about as far as it's gone. But it's a start.

So I've got this client I'm working with to help define an e-Learning strategy, and I'm thinking about what role FaceBook should/could play in their plan. This client has a cross-generational membership -- from college students to older alumnae. Very close ties to universities. No firewall or technical infrastructure. A lot of the membership already has FaceBook accounts. I'm interested in how we could leverage that existing community for better communication, learning opportunities, networking, etc.

The challenge is that my client would want to have a private, closed community that would only be accessed by its membership.

I know FaceBook does provide a fair amount of control as to who you can let view your profile. That's all set at the individual level.

I'm interested in how one would mix communities. So if a user is a member of this "closed-community" but also has an existing FaceBook presence, can you keep these worlds separate?

Would the better approach be to create a real-closed community using something like Ning? Or Moodle? Although I think there's a real downside to creating multiple profiles and pages all over the place....

Any experience in this front? Any suggestions?


clarence said...

Have you looked at ning?

Cammy Bean said...


I have looked a bit at Ning, mostly via Jay Cross's Ning group.

What's been your experience with Ning?