How can Social Media and Facebook be Used in the Nurturing Fathers Class

posted Nov 12, 2016, 9:57 AM by Wales brown
The Nurturing Fathers Program is a learning environment that uses in person meetings as a primary way of teaching skills that relate to class goals.  In terms of learning, participants compose a very diverse group of people with varying literacies.  In terms of using Facebook as a social media tool for learning, there will be limitations for some and gains for others. 
In terms of literacy, Wikipedia states that modern meanings of literacy have built on traditional definitions of reading, writing and use of arithmetic to now include “skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts”.  For some of the men that participate in the classes, there are obstacles that prevent them from using technology.  For a few, the obstacles are rooted in limited cognitive ability, and for others a fear of how using technology can be used against them.  They sometimes prefer to not be engaged using social media to protect their digital footprint. 

So Facebook will be limited in it’s ability to be used as a secondary application in the social media approach with my learners for in class learning.  In my experience, social media (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) are used on the backbone of a blog to further the messages in the blog, so it is a secondary resource. Therefore, Facebook is not going to be a primary tool with my learners.  It can be a very valuable resource for the community, people referring them and for learners to explore what they might be able to gain from participating in a class.

It can be an effective tool with the Systems (Family Court, Attorneys, other Providers & Department of Social Services) that may be referring participants.  Facebook can effectively: inform about group processes, procedures and satisfaction feedback based on “likes” and “reactions”.  Facebook can also provide some opportunities for those “shopping” for a service, to better understand some of the methods used for teaching.

 

Group Community Work in Facebook

Facebook provides creative opportunities for dads in the Nurturing Fathers Program to be able to connect with each outside of class.  In fact, one commonly offered piece of feedback at the conclusion of the class is the value that dads feel in gaining connection and reducing feelings of isolation.  In my early work in looking at trying to maintain connection, I have established “closed groups” in Facebook for participants of each class to communicate with each other.   For those that do use Facebook this group is entirely voluntary and offered as a way to develop relationships with each other.  The “closed group” (each labeled by the class timeline) is a place to not only continue relationships made, but also offers a way for fathers (based on the timeline and postings) to perhaps even meet other fathers or professionals that they’d like to connect with. 


Maintaining Presence

         From the beginning of design with this group process, I determined that I would not be teaching this class alone and would be using a co-facilitator.  I have also made an intentional plan to make sure that the co-leaders that teach with me represent the diversity of fatherhood.  I am sharing administrative authority with my co-leaders and we will be able to post and make changes together instead of one person (me) being responsible.  I am planning for this collaborative effort to reflect the value and importance of everyone having space to make connections and support fathers. 

As group leaders, we will also be a part of the “closed groups” and will be able to add support, reflect on things we’ve discussed in class and ways to use skills learned to add to fathers feelings of being successful.  It will probably be most meaningful is a place to provide encouragement.

 

Plan for Outward-facing Presence

          In terms of various social media platforms, any plan for outward-facing presence will include weekly monitoring for new and innovative ways that fatherhood is being discussed, researched and developed.  For the website (www.nurturingfathers12304.com) it will be important to show links to other webpages and blogs to maximize publicity.  It will also be important to up to date and current pictures, videos and activities associated with the Nurturing Fathers Program. 

For the platform Tumblr, myself and co-leaders can upload current work and gain other followers they may not be following us on Facebook.  We can showcase various projects we are working on.  For example, this year we worked throughout the year to showcase an important documentary film Daddy Don’t Go (Director, Emily Abt, 20014) and have a Co-Director participate in dialogue afterward at a popular community theater.  The intention was to build a collective of people from across the community to learn more about fatherhood, obstacles and work being done and bring together fatherhood programs.  A Tumblr blog is less static and easier to update than a website portfolio.

For Facebook, we can also upload the latest work we are doing as well as provide links to other work going on to provide as much information as possible about responding to questions, concerns and needs in regard to fatherhood.  Facebook will provide a much more diverse and subjective experience, as opposed to just being links to research and will link others to people with similar interests and concerns. 

The Future

         As has been seen over the last 15 years, platforms for learning, sharing and expression, particularly regarding social media, continue to evolve and change over time.  I see my biggest responsibility in using social media as trying to remain current and practice using so that I am using the various different ways that people learn and gain information as well as share their own experience. 

I will need to continue to look at ways that I can take time to use to involve myself in the learning process, continue to participate and practice and to look at new and emerging practices.  Perhaps looking at adding in purposeful learning in regard to social media on a routine basis throughout the year will provide me with ways to continue to learn and develop and grow within current and emerging media platforms to sharing and teaching. 

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