How To Use Facebook Questions In The Classroom

The gloves are off. Facebook is taking aim at Yahoo! Answers, Quora and Mahalo with its latest feature. Facebook Questions will allow users to get crowdsourced answers to almost any question from the 500 million-strong Facebook community.

Facebook Questions gives users the opportunity to ask questions just by clicking the “Ask Question” button on the homepage. Questions is also available on friends’ profiles just as you would post on someone’s wall. Here’s a bit about what the system offers, according to Mashable:

What Questions Does

  • Photo questions: For example, if you take a picture of a bird, but don’t know what species it is, you can post the picture on Facebook Questions and get your answer.
  • Polling: If you’re simply looking for the answer to Which city is better: Chicago or Dallas?, you can get your answer by creating a poll.
  • Tagging: The company seems to be placing a lot of emphasis on tagging questions based on category or topic. The goal seems to be to make Q&A discovery an easier and faster process by making it simple to look up questions on cooking, photography, San Francisco or a variety of other topics.
  • Topic exploration: Facebook described this as a roulette-type feature that allows users to browse Facebook’s eventual mountain of Q&A. Under the “Questions about” drop-down menu, there’s a feature called “Everything” that allows users to browse the company’s catalog of questions.
  • Following: You can follow specific questions for updates and new answers.
  • Updated homepage: Facebook Questions does actually change the homepage (view image), adding a new bar at the top of the page where you can choose to update your status, ask a question, add photos, or post a link.

According to Mashable, Facebook Questions is not an advertising product. While brands with Facebook Pages will eventually be able to answer questions, it’s not meant to be a promotional platform; it’s meant to be a useful and insightful product for users.

Facebook Questions rolled out to a limited group of beta testers yesterday, but the company promises to “bring this product to all of you as quickly as we can.” The entire feature is public, so we don’t suggest posting those awkward bedroom questions on Facebook.

How It Can Help In School

The 'FB Questions' Homepage

Situation #1 - Imagine for a minute a student is sitting at the lunch table, trying to quickly finish up a paper on Ben Franklin. Rather than rely on the questionable results of Wikipedia or the more lewd crowd at Yahoo! Answers, this student taps open their phone’s Facebook app, types in a question like ‘Where was Ben Franklin born?’ (OK that’s a simple one but you get the idea) and in a matter of a couple minutes, that students friends, family, and even strangers have weighed in with the answer. Using a Digg-like voting function, the best (and hopefully most accurate) answer will rise to the top.The reason Facebook Questions will actually work? Simple: it’s open to all 500 million users.

Situation #2 – Another possible implementation of Facebook Answers in the classroom could actually have teachers encouraging students to log onto Facebook during a lesson. For example, a teacher could task students with finding 10 questions being posed on a particular topic right now on Facebook Questions. The students could then be told to help answer these questions. Imagine assigning homework where you don’t know what the questions will be until you log onto Facebook. It may just be the wave of the future. Or not. Only time will tell if Facebook Questions can steal enough marketshare from Yahoo! Answers and other services.

Do you have another way Facebook Questions could be used in school? Let us know on Socially Learning or on Twitter!