How to Create an Active Facebook Group & Learning Community | By Eileen McGurty Ph.D.

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Plus 5 Great Tips to Create an Active Facebook Group & Learning Community

A private Facebook group is an outstanding tool for coaches who work with groups. Facebook groups can be used as an informal support for group programs and can be used as a discussion space for an online course. In fact, when I ask my coach clients how they are going to make their course interactive, invariably the response is, "Oh! I will start a Facebook group!"

If you are first starting out with online teaching, Facebook is easy and cheap (free!). Using Facebook as the tool to facilitate conversation and build community is a good idea because so many people have a Facebook account, are familiar with the format, and logon to the site regularly. You are more likely to get a conversation going if your students are hanging around together and know how to join the discussion.

The issue is that Facebook is not designed as a learning platform. Facebook presents some challenges to the coach turned online teacher who wants a solid conversation about very specific content you've provided in your online course.

If you want a dynamic learning environment in a Facebook group as the central part of your online course discussion, you must provide leadership to make it happen. Your students are counting on you to guide them.

Here are 5 Easy Ways to Transform your Facebook Group into an Active Learning Community:

1. Create a Permanent Pinned Post

Use your "Pinned Post" as an invitation to build a community. Include your guidelines for participation. These guidelines should focus on building community spirit and include suggestions about participating frequently and with the intention of learning together. For example, suggest how often they should be posting each week in order to get the most out of your course. Invite them to embrace the principle of "Post Once; Respond Twice." When a participant responds to a fellow participant twice for each substantive post they make, everyone is "in service" to others.

2. Send a Welcome Email

If you have students joining the group at different times, be sure to create a welcome to the group email that reinforces your pinned post. If everyone is joining the group at the same time, at the start of the course be sure to send out a specific email about the Facebook group to everyone. To invite community building, use your email to encourage thoughtful and frequent posts - and to suggest that the more the students put in, the more they will receive.

3. Offer Specific Prompts

It is not enough to create a group, give students membership, and let it go. You must offer specific prompts for discussion. These prompts must have a purpose that is directly tied to your learning objectives. (Yes, you need learning objectives for the whole course and each module!). Make the prompts open-ended but ask for specific responses. You don't want "yes or no" responses, but you don't want a dissertation, either! Be sure to ask questions that require higher level thinking and reflecting.

Bonus Tip: Propose a scenario and paint a picture for them (hypothetical or maybe not). Then ask how they might approach problem-solving it!

4. Weekly Pinned Post

Each week, make sure to create and pin a post with a summary of the previous week's key points, links to important discussion threads from that week (this really helps people find the good information since so much can get lost on in Facebook), and suggestions for how to approach the coming week.

5. Respond to Posts and Extend Your Students' Learning

If you want student engagement in the conversation, you have to be in there with them. Don't limit yourself to posts you were tagged in or those specifically about the course process. In your responses, challenge students to extend and expand their thinking on the problem. You might also tag others in the group who you know might have insights to respond. Facilitate and grow the discussion.

Bonus Tip: Try recording your voice instead of typing feedback. Upload the audio file directly to the Facebook page. Keep it to no more than 2 or 3 minutes. There is something magical about hearing your teacher's voice guiding you on your learning journey. Your students will be totally delighted! (The technical part of this is very easy to do).

Wrap-up

Using these 5 strategies will help you build a dynamic learning community, which is the key to creating a distinctive, remarkable and unique online course in high demand and commanding a premium price.

eileenmcgurty-headshotdec20Contributing Author: Eileen McGurty, Ph.D. I love working with coaches, yoga teachers and wellness professionals who want to serve their students with the highest quality learning opportunities. Together, we turn your passion, knowledge and desire to serve into a dynamic, interactive and high quality online course. Sign up for my newsletter to grab your free copy of "How to Maximize the Impact of Your Online Course" and learn more about how to make a huge impact teaching online at Great Online Teaching.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Corrie Ann

    You can also do a Facebook Live video to welcome members, hold a quick learning session, introduce a new tool, or simply keep the momentum going in the group.

    Reply

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