After teaching two “Facebook for Classroom Instruction” workshops for instructional faculty over summer, I have a couple more items to add to my list of changes that Facebook should implement into Groups if Facebook would like to make Groups a more useful tool for educators. These are particularly important if Facebook wants to stay ahead of Google+ in group management tools.
- Bring back the ability for Group administrators to invite members via email address: The old style Groups used to allow administrators to easily invite Facebook members — who were not already Friends with the administrator — to the Group by typing in that person’s email address and sending them a direct invitation that already approved them for membership.
- Now, administrators can only add their own Facebook Friends to a Group, or have to manually email the Group URL to people the administrator would like to invite — and then the administrator still has to approve that person’s request to join the Group (see point #5 on my original post).
- Better yet — Facebook should allow administrators to import an email list, or copy and paste multiple email addresses from a list, to send out multiple invites at a time, instead of one by one.
- Google+ already supports this functionality! An instructor just needs to build his or her class email list in Gmail Contacts, invite those students via email to join Google+, and then add those students to a designated class Circle.
- Allow Facebook Pages to be added as a Group member: This functionality would be a huge benefit to classroom instructors as well as academic and school libraries. Libraries — which have a Facebook Page — could be embedded into a class Group by adding them as a member, and then the librarians who manage the library Page could answer research requests, share relevant resources, and (once Group video chat is hopefully implemented, with screen-sharing) provide remote research instruction.
- The way Groups currently work, only individual Facebook members (Profiles) can be added to a Group. Most librarians I know would prefer to interact with a class Group as the library, instead of using their own personal Facebook Profile.
- As soon as Google+ starts allowing organizations to establish a Google+ Profile, Google+ will have another “one up” on Facebook Groups by supporting the ability to embed a library (not an individual librarian) into class Circles.