Facebook is already in college classrooms these days when students become "bored" with the lecture going on, or "multi-task" by typing their notes and then catching up with Facebook at the same time. While it may already be in the classrooms, it’s being used a bit differently in a Stanford classroom this semester as the focus of a new course. The course is called "Create Engaging Web Applications Using Metrics and Learning on Facebook" and will be offered primarily to computer science majors.
Essentially the Facebook site itself falls under what’s needed for course materials and according to the instructor, students will use it to "learn how to build and market user-friendly software." For someone who is interested in social media and software development, this is an ideal course to prep them for what they’ll experience when they leave college. They’ll also have the chance to make money as well because at the end of the quarter, students we’ll have the opportunity to show-off their project to investors.
There are two main projects that students (who will work in groups of three) will need to accomplish. First, students will develop any application that they feel will appeal to "most" Facebook users. The second project involves developing another application that would be focused on using Facebook for education purposes. I know, it’s hard to imagine Facebook could be used for educational purposes, but the example that Venture Beat gave was an application that could be used by students to share class notes with each other which would be extremely useful.
And of course with most any other class you take in college, the students will get graded. This is the only part of the course that I’d say is questionable. Students will be graded upon how many users they can get using their applications. To me, it sounds like it has the potential to turn into a popularity contest, however, I could be wrong. The one way that I could see it as a great way to grade is if students take the time to actually "market" their application. One lesson I’m sure they could/should learn is not to underestimate the power of a blog. If the groups making the applications are able to get some high-profiler blogs writing about them with genuine interest, I’d say that they’ve got an awesome shot at getting a great grade.
Considering that this course is focused around Facebook, it’s no surprise that they’ve created a Facebook group for class. You can check it out here.