Facebook was developed by Mark Zuckerberg and was launched on February 4, 2004. Originally Zuckerberg ran the website as a hobby during his time at Harvard and access to the site was limited to only Harvard students. Within only a short time the site expanded to include all colleges across the country and eventually high schools from across the nation. Today Facebook is recognized as the fourth most-trafficked website worldwide with an estimated 120 million users in 55,000 regional classifications. 
The purpose of Facebook is to keep people connected with old friends, family, and classmates with no cost. It helps people to keep pre-existing relationships and to see what their friends are up to. Also, it helps spread public awareness about certain issues. Facebook members can send messages, update their status, and now they are able use instant messaging to tell people what they are currently doing.
How Facebook Works
Access to Facebook is limited to users over the age of 13, and if the user is between 13-18 years old they must be enrolled in a school and provide a valid email address. In order to use Facebook, you must create an account. After you answer a few mandatory questions, Facebook will create an account for you. You can browse and join networks that are separated into groups such as regions, colleges, workplaces, and high schools. Users can stay in contact with people they know by friend requesting them. In order to make searching for friends easier users can sort friends by age, sex, relationship status, and many other attributes utilizing Facebook's search engine. A Facebook profile is the webpage that other Facebook users will see while visiting your site. A profile gives people an idea of who the user is, where they are from, where they work, and anything else that users would like to include. Facebook has a space where you can upload a profile picture so others can put a face to a name, a friends section which displays pictures of other Facebook members that you are friends with, a section that shows personal information such as your birthday and where you work or go to school, and also a mini feed section that informs you about what your other Facebook friends are up to. A new feature is the instant messaging feature that allows users to communicate instantaneously., a status updater which tells you what your friends are doing at the current time, and a "wall" where you can comment your friends and where they can comment you. . The next time you log onto Fcebook, there will be a memo saying if that person has accepted or not. If you enjoy a lot of things and want people to know about them, you can add an application that shows that you are a "fan" of certain things. In your photo application, you can add and upload up to sixty photo's per album. Here you can "tag" your friends who appear in the picture by hitting "tag this photo." You can add a video application that is similar to YouTube that shows your favorite sports team, singer, or anything. Other applications you can add are the group application, events application, market place (which is like craigslist), posted items, and gifts application. People can also create their own applications that other people can put and upload onto their profile.
For the past few years it seems as though educators have been looking for ways to keep students off of social networking applications like Facebook because they are seen as distracting and unrelated to the academic topics at hand. However, Facebook is being underutilized as an educational technology. This Web 2.0 technology has a variety of applications availible in it that could prove to be very effective in the classroom.
Quite obviously this program lends itself to group projects and collaboration outside of class. For students communicating outside of class can be a difficult task to undertake. With their busy schedules it is often hard to have a simple phone call much less a meeting where all the group members are in attendance. To remedy this situation Facebook could be used as a way to inexpensively collaborate with group members and check on the progress that has been made. Quite simply students could start a group for the specific project that they were working on and utilize the page provided to hold discussions, share multimedia, pictures, and other web sites as well as just using the Wall feature to stay in contact with group members. Also the instant messaging feature can allow students to rapidly brainstorm ideas even if they cannot meet in person.
Some people have begun to utilize the broad reach of Facebook by connecting with people from accross the globe. With Facebook students would be able to exchange ideas and share thoughts with people from across the globe. Using this Web 2.0 technology teachers are able to reinvent penpals and share more than just words. This application creates an instant connection with very diverse people from far away and the best part is that it is free. In addition to sharing stories, likes and dislikes the nature of Facebook allows users to share pictures and videos that make the experience motivating to young people as well as more valuable as a teaching tool.
Facebook has a penpal application, but using an unverified system like that could raise controversy. A simple way to create a great international corresopondance program would be to search for the department of education for a country and then to contact schools individually to find another teacher that would be interested in creating such a program.
Facebook Lesson Plans
Facebook, meet Blackboard
Facebook and Blackboard are planning on a major collaboration-Blackboard Sync. This will be an application that delivers course information and updates from Blackboard to you inside Facebook. This will help students be notified on up-coming assignments, grades, and test/homework help. This kinds of information will be kept secret of course just like it is on regular Blackboard, but it will be much easier for students to access and should help students better remember what they need to do.The goal is to make Facebook similar to Blackbaord in the since that it will give students to the opportunity to check grades and offer study tools and feedback.
Tools making it easy to Study, Research, and More:
- Books iRead: With the help of this application users share the books you're reading and see what others are reading.
- DoResearch4me: This helps application makes it easier to gather information with using your thesis statement, instructions, and more
- Flashcards: This application allows students to create flashcards and practice them using Facebook
- Wikiseek Search: Students can use this to do research Wikipedia articles on Facebook
- SkoolPool: Get the lowdown on schools, online and otherwise
- Rate My Professors: This can help students find out what other students think of professors so they know who to ask for before they register for class.
- JSTOR Search: This application can be used to find full text research articles.
- Notely: With this you can organize your school life. You can make calendars to organize assignments and tell when they are due, and you can organize your notes.
- Study Groups: With this you can get groups of your classmates together to work on homework or so groupd projects.
- Get Homework Help: This will allow you to get connected with tutors and talk to other students to get help with homework
- SwapRoll: With the help of this interface users can save money on textbooks by trading them with others in the network.
- Notecentric Take: This collaboration allows users to take notes right on Facebook and share them with other classmates.
- Class Notes: YThsi application can be used this to find scanned notes for your class.
Tools for Teachers and Administrators:
- BookTag: This allows a great way to share and loan books out to students and create helpful quizzes for studying
- Webinaria Screencast Recorder: Record a video for students and share it
- Mathematical Formulas: Distribute formulas, solutions, and more
- SlideShare: Create presentations to send to students
Facebook Criticism and Safety
Recently there have been concerns from parents and educators that some people might use social networking applications to gain information about people for illicit purposes. Facebook is considered safe but remember to remind your students:
- Don't accept friend requests from people that you don't know
- Don't post sensitive information that you wouldn't mind if everyone knew
- Modify your privacy settings so that people that are not your friends cannot see all of your personal information
- Never share your password with others
- Also remind students that they can never be sure that the person they are talking to online is the person that they think it is