Social-learning mash-up?

I was sent a link this week to an application within Facebook, CourseFeed. This is a small application that integrates your Virtual Learning Environment with Facebook. At the moment it seems to support Blackboard® only, with some limited functionality for others.

The full app when used with Blackboard® allows (using their words not mine):

  • Course Wall
  • File storage for Course Notes, etc.
  • Course feed display of what’s new posted by others.
  • Connect with others in the course.
  • Profile display to let friends know when you’re in class.
  • See everyone in your course – guaranteed accurate course roster.
  • View all Blackboard® course materials without leaving Facebook
  • Course feed shows when professor posts announcements, files, etc. to Blackboard®.
  • View all announcements, new or old, in the announcements area.
  • One-click access into Blackboard® and auto-navigation that takes you right to the item. No hunting!

This may be the articulation of something that has always been there in face-to-face education, a nexus between students’ social activity – formal learning – informal learning – peer group exchanges. Potentially a great step forward for electronic environments?

Conversations with students in various surveys over the last few months suggest a different picture. Whilst it is by no means clear-cut, there is a feeling amongst students that they would like ‘private space’, and there as also been some negative publicity around, for example, Facebook, where “university authorities are using the Facebook website to gain evidence about unruly post-exam pranks”.

Kim Carey of Pepperdine University poses the question:

“Does anyone think giving your university id & password to a third party is a good idea?”

Any thoughts or comments? This could be an application that might really help learning, but what about privacy?


  1. Giving out your university username and password is clearly a bad idea, but why aren’t universities developing this themselves? That way you get a secure trust relationship between the Facebook account and your VLE. The Facebook (or whatever other service replaces it) application could be more tailored to the University too.

  2. Just as an addendum – the facebook terms relating to user content posted on the site:
    When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

  3. A little clarification – Facebook’s User Content to Site policy only applies to files uploaded to Facebook – not to 3rd party applications.

    CourseFeed does not download or store Blackboard content files, instead it displays the course content structure to the student. When students click on a link they are taken to their Blackboard site where they login and then download the content from Blackboard.

  4. Does this require a Blackboard Building Block on the admin end of things or is it just ready to go with no modifications to Blackboard at all?

  5. Couple comments

    1. Only very niave students use something like Facebook for private conversations, real personal information or to report on nefarious deeds. Anyone who understands the basic workings of the internet realizes that you can’t ‘hide’ that information. ‘private space’ I mean… really. The internet? private?

    2. The desire to ‘reach out’ into facebook for the ‘attention’ of the students is a reflection of either direct marketing or a desperate misunderstanding of what the university has to offer the current generation.

    3. The app depends on giving private information. So… lets say my university has single sign on.

    4. Blackweb is very much trying to stay relevant.

    5. That is the smartest 23 year old kid in the whole world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.