Information technology in the classroom was supposed to bridge digital divides and enhance student research. Increasingly, however, our networks are being used to entertain members of "the Facebook Generation" who text-message during class, talk on their cellphones during labs, and listen to iPods rather than guest speakers in the wireless lecture hall.
That is true at my institution, Iowa State University. With a total enrollment of 25,741, Iowa State logs 20,247 registered users on Facebook, which bills itself as "an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools." While I'd venture to say that most of the students on any campus are regular visitors to Facebook.com, many professors and administrators have yet to hear about Facebook, let alone evaluate its impact.
On many levels, Facebook is fascinating -- an interactive, image-laden directory featuring groups that share lifestyles or attitudes. Many students find it addictive, as evidenced by discussion groups with names like "Addicted to the Facebook," which boasts 330 members at Iowa State. Nationwide, Facebook tallies 250 million hits every day and ranks ninth in overall traffic on the Internet... -Michael J. Bugeja, January 23, 2006