Jan 26

How America Can Meet Obama’s Educational Challenges on…Facebook???

Barack Obama finally made some mention in his State of the Union that hey, perhaps investing in math and sciences could be good for this country. I’ve been waiting for a speech challenging us to conquer both the energy problem and pushing innovation in computer sciences and biotechnology since Obama started office. When Kennedy declared that we wanted to put a man on the moon, my mother’s homework doubled almost overnight. That generation saw more engineers than all others before or since. America is great, and it needs a challenge. I have a solution.

When we think of Facebook, we often think of poking and FarmVille. We think of Family Tree and privacy issues. But why aren’t we thinking of trivia games about subjects like math and science? Can we use Facebook Groups to assign beginner Ruby on Rails assignments or organizations to discuss alternate sources of fuel?

Facebook isn’t just a social network. It is a platform that makes it easy to organize groups and games. That platform has over half a billion people, many of whom can teach people useful skills to give them jobs and trades. Why must I learn Ruby on Rails in a book? Why can’t someone create a Facebook game that asks me to program certain tasks and rewards me for achieving certain levels? Why can’t I play a game that gives me a Spanish flashcard every time I tag a picture in English, and does the same for a Spanish speaker wanting to learn English? Facebook is still very much an untapped resource because we see it as a social network versus a robust platform ripe with users already. As it becomes as common to our lives as Google, I expect and hope to see these types of learning mechanisms in the future.