It has never been easier for students to share information with each other about classes, but that does not mean this communication is helpful.
Students have made groups on Facebook for many classes so that they can ask each other questions and benefit from the collaboration of other classmates. Some students, however, need to be more responsible with their actions on these pages, which are being misused.
Since teachers do not mediate the activity of the majority of these groups, student discussion can quickly evolve into cheating. When students post the answers to homework assignments to compare with their peers, they are allowing every student who is part of the group to copy their work. In addition, students sometime discuss test problems in the Facebook group after they take it, allowing others who missed the test that day to see the questions in advance.
Although a student who posted in the group may not have realized that he was giving answers, both the sender and receiver of information are at fault and punishable according to the honor code. Students should be aware of the possible consequences of their actions and should be responsible enough to avoid compromising their academic integrity on a website as easily traceable as Facebook.
These groups also create an excess of notifications to the point that they are much more distracting than helpful. Even when the posts may be asking legitimate questions, the endless comments from students usually have no relevance to the original topic. In one group for a class for example, there were over 60 notifications that consisted mostly of two students mocking each other.
Students also waste time on these groups by boasting about their grades. It is okay to be proud of a good grade, but a Facebook group for an AP class is not the place to share it. In some cases, students seem to post their scores just to brag and belittle others. If a student asks the group how much a test will be curved, others somehow think that they should answer with a list of their great grades that do not need to be curved.
Class groups provide students with an invaluable opportunity to learn, but the nonsense that has taken over these groups limits the possible benefits. Students should stop misusing these groups if they truly want to be productive; otherwise they are just wasting their time.