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Facebook’s Groups for Schools bonds together MSU students

April 18, 2012

Facebook took another step in students’ lives with its new Groups for Schools service, providing a consolidated place to mix school life and social life.

Facebook now allows groups from colleges across the nation to interact with other students from their college in one place. The groups at MSU range from specific classes, to individual colleges, to parties on campus.

Marketing freshman Patricia Cabriales is one of more than 16,000 members currently on Groups at Michigan State and said it is an easy way to find out about MSU.

“It’s great so we know what’s going on around campus,” Cabriales said. “We have a floor page (for the students on my floor), and when we have floor meetings, it helps me know what’s going on.”

Christine Greenhow, an assistant professor of educational psychology and educational technology, has done research on the use of social media among high school and college students.

Although Facebook can be viewed as a distraction to school, Greenhow said Groups at Michigan State can help students connect with the broader university community.

“It offers a space within a space they already use and are already inclined to express themselves, voice their opinions and connect with others,” Greenhow said. “It also can give students a way to locate, learn about and interact with other students, faculty and alumni they might or might not come across frequently on campus.”

Greenhow said social media sites, such as the new MSU groups, can facilitate class group work by giving all students ownership of the work because people can co-produce content at the same or different times.

Social media sites also allow an arrangement that helps generate diverse ideas between members through quick communication.

“People living at a distance all over the world can help collaborate group work,” Greenhow said.

Although he admits Facebook can distract him from his studies at times, computer science junior Zach Jones said he never would get rid of his profile on Facebook because it keeps him in contact with his friends and students from classes.

Jones said he’s already begun to use the Groups at Michigan State for classwork.

“Someone in one of my classes created a group for that class so we can correlate study tables,” Jones said. “It can be difficult if you don’t have (someone’s) phone number or email, but everybody seems to be on Facebook, so that helps a lot.”

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