Navigating the Facebook Universe

This week’s two-part computer class, “Getting Started with Facebook,” has proven to be decidedly popular. Because we only have twelve seats in the computer lab, we require reservations and usually limit classes to that number; however, I had sixteen people in yesterday’s session. As I’ve mentioned before, the local newspaper has started listing the classes in their print calendar, but those listings neglect to mention that registration is required. Hating to turn people away, I allowed those who weren’t registered to pull a chair into the lab and sit in on the side. Even though they weren’t at a computer, they were able to at least watch and learn something instead of having wasted their time coming downtown to the library for nothing.

This particular class is one of my favorites to teach, but I have to admit yesterday’s session left me scatter-brained and exhausted. With any of the computer classes, there’s always a variance in ability among the attendees, and a lot of the times when I’m instructing, I need to pause to catch someone up or explain something one more time. On top of that, though, when teaching people how to use Facebook, there’s so much going on it’s hard to stay on one particular path. I’ll get to explaining one thing, and a patron will have a question about something slightly related but just off-topic enough to get me going in a whole other direction, and I end up feeling like I’ve gone in circles. All the while, the patron is sitting there and I’m never quite sure if they’ve followed along, or if I’ve left them with their own heads spinning in circles of information overload. I’m really fortunate, though, that pretty much all of the participants in the class were patient with me, and some even felt sorry for me having to be pulled in so many directions.

My goal for Tuesday’s session was to get the patrons registered if they weren’t already and then give them a tour of their home page and their profile or timeline. I wanted to start slow. A road block, though, was the confirmation of new users’ email addresses, which you have to do first in order to access most of the features on the site. After getting around that, I provided an explanation of the difference between the news feed and their own timeline (or what used to be called wall), the different kinds of updates people can post, how to find friends to add and pages to like, and how to send private messages and chat with friends. I made sure to warn them, though, that every six to twelve months, Facebook likes to update, change and rearrange things, so they shouldn’t get used to something being the same for too long. By the time I got through all that, I looked at the clock and my hour was up.

I’ve planned for Thursday’s session to focus on uploading photos, editing profile information, and changing account and privacy settings, but I’m sure I’ll find myself wandering all over the Facebook universe again. At the end of yesterday’s class, though, I let everyone know that even after the second session, the learning experience doesn’t have to end. With Facebook, a lot of it is taking the time to explore on your own. However, I did tell them that if they had a question, they could always come back to the library and ask for me, and I’d be glad to help them to the best of my ability.

One thought on “Navigating the Facebook Universe

  1. I think it's wonderful that you make yourself so pleasantly available to patrons outside of class. It certainly makes them feel more comfortable coming to the reference desk with questions, particularly if you're there with that helpful demeanor.


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