Plans and Ideas: Facebook

During my first semester of undergrad work, I heard a phrase that stuck with me and will do so until the end of my days.

“We call it the Missouri Method,” former University of Missouri School of Journalism dean Brian Brooks said. “You will learn by doing.”

To a long-haired, 18-year-old freshman who cared more about the school’s football team than its ‘Career in Journalism’ course, the statement meant little. That quickly changed. Throughout my time at Mizzou, I was thrown into the frying pan more often than not.

Missouri-journalism-archway

From reporting to photography to online media, my college education came in the form of experience instead of textbooks. Pencils and notepads instead of worksheets. Camera and computers instead of tests. I, and the rest of my surviving classmates, was taught how to be a professional journalist by actually being a journalist.

Below you will find assignment suggestions along with four lesson plans, all geared towards Facebook. These are mere guidelines, though whichever way you decide to teach your students, I would advise employing the lesson I experienced long ago — have them learn by doing.

Assignment Suggestions

Due to the brevity of a high school semester, a social media unit most likely needs to be concise. Therefore, it’s my recommendation to spend three to five days on the unit, with Facebook receiving a day of recognition.

I would also advocate introducing this unit within the first month of a course, and thereafter strive to integrate its teachings throughout the rest of the semester. For Facebook, that could be as simple as requiring a suggested post for each story or photo assignment.

Lesson Plan Ideas

1) Introduction Video: “The Illustrated Story of Facebook”

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to provide a concise, informative and entertaining introduction into Facebook.

Target Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: The video lasts two minutes and 31 seconds.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to educate students on the history and relatively current state of the application.

Materials: The YouTube clip can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoUJQJB7jVc.

Organization:

  • Use a projector to show your students the video. If your classroom lacks a projector or is an online course, you can share the video link virtually with the class.
  • Utilize the short flick as either a lead-in lesson or towards the beginning of the unit.
  • If you wish to have your students answer questions during the presentation, three inquiries could be: 1) What university did the platform’s creator attend? 2) What date was the “Like” button introduced? 3) How many engaged users did the outlet hold on September 14, 2012?

 2) Posting Practice

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to teach students how to create a journalistic post on a Facebook account.

Target Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: The lesson can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to educate students on the appropriate way to create a journalistic post on Facebook. Besides showcasing various types of posts, the lesson will also touch on the type of voice needed, suggested posting times as well as guidelines to adhere to.

Materials: Pen and paper or a Microsoft Word document.

Organization:

  • Provide the students with examples of quality journalistic Facebook posts — if you don’t know how to create a post, visit Facebook’s “How to Post & Share.” Athas and Gorman give a wide assortment of local stories that drive user engagement, such as curiosity stimulators, major breaking news and crowd pleasers (2012). Sonderman also touches on the conversational voice and calls-to-action a reporter will want to utilize (2011).
  • Next, display the recommended times and lengths to schedule Facebook posts advocated by Cooper (2013).
  • Lastly, introduce the social media guidelines that you have selected for your courses and/or publications as Tompkins advises (2014).
  • After presenting this information, have the students write practice posts about one of their more recent story or photo submissions. Margot da Cunha suggests to hold the posts between one to three sentences, as well as include an image or graphic idea to accompany the text (2014).
  • Continue this practice of requiring social media posts on content submissions throughout the semester. By doing this, students will develop a “social media” habit while providing constant content to post.

3) Personal Poll Survey

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to demonstrate how to conduct a poll survey on Facebook.

Target Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: The lesson can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to illustrate how to coordinate a poll survey on the application. Combining earlier lessons, students will further their understanding of eliciting user activity for their reporting needs.

Materials: A personal Facebook account. If a student lacks one, they can create one or partner up with someone who already possess one.

Organization:

  • Provide the students with examples of quality journalistic Facebook posts — if you don’t know how to create a post, visit Facebook’s “How to Post & Share.” Athas and Gorman give a wide assortment of local stories that drive user engagement, such as curiosity stimulators, major breaking news and crowd pleasers (2012). Sonderman also touches on the conversational voice and calls-to-action a reporter will want to utilize (2011).
  • Next, display the recommended times and lengths to schedule Facebook posts advocated by Cooper (2013).
  • Lastly, introduce the social media guidelines that you have selected for your courses and/or publications as Tompkins advises (2014).
  • After presenting this information, have the students conduct a poll on their Facebook accounts. The surveys can be fun in nature or serious, but each students’ post needs to be a creative question aimed at generating user activity.
  • Before publication, review the questions just to make sure they are school appropriate.
  • The following day, ask if anyone received any feedback and if or how they responded. Not everyone will receive responses, thus dissect the questions that elicited the most feedback so students can better understand what induces user activity.

4) Graph Search Scavenger Hunt

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to exhibit how to utilize Facebook’s graph search feature to locate possible sources or content.

FacebookScreenshot

Target Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: The lesson can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to instruct how the platform’s graph search feature can help a reporter find prospective story sources, ideas or information. Students will learn how Facebook can increase the depth of their reporting skills.

Materials: A personal Facebook account. If a student lacks one, they can create their own or partner up with someone who already possess one.

Organization:

  • Introduce Facebook’s graph search feature by relaying the tips Lavrusik offers (2013). The Facebook journalism manager explains that to use the search, simply type phrases in which you are interested in at the top of your profile page. He presents several examples, one being if you were to do a story on a specific company and wanted to speak with one of their employees at a specific location, you could search “People who work at ACME Inc. in New York.” The results could be potential employees and/or potential sources.
  • After showing how the graph search works, break your students into small groups, four to six in each. Give every group a story idea, such as “Super Bowl in New York City” or “Fashion Week 2014.”
  • After assigning ideas, have the groups come up with as much information as possible for their hypothetical story. They should include possible sources, contact information, photos, past articles and whatever else they deem newsworthy.
  • Finally, have each group present their findings out loud so you can compare and contrast the results as a class.
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