Facebook releases Workplace, focusses on business

Sulaiman Akbari

BIZ/TECH REPORTER

A new service to organize work, business, and school projects is here and Humber College can potentially use it for their online courses.

Facebook recently launched a new service called Workplace. It’s like Facebook’s group pages and designed to replace lengthy work emails while making project coordination easier.

First-year Humber College business marketing student Chad Mitchell, 20, said Workplace can make online classes more interactive.

“I think Workplace can get students talking to each other instead of the professor doing all the talking,” he said.

Online courses at Humber are organized and communicated through Blackboard. However, Mitchell said it is hard to get used to.

“Blackboard is really confusing,” he said. “It is hard to navigate through the site and because of it, I sometimes have to do assignments last-minute.”

Mitchell said he and other students could interact with Workplace by reminding each other that an assignment is due, or asking each other for help.

“I can see Workplace bringing students closer together with group projects because students would have direct contact,” he said.

Humber College Associate Vice President for Teaching and Learning Eileen DeCourcy said there are ways to communicate with students through Blackboard.

“Blackboard Collaborate is the way for students to communicate through an online course,” she said.

However, DeCourcy said it depends on the online course whether Blackboard Collaborate can be used.

“If the online course is a straightforward class with no student interaction, then there is no point in utilizing Blackboard Collaborate,” she said.

Since Workplace is connected through Facebook, Mitchell said if he were to receive a message notification through Facebook he would have a better chance of seeing it.

Second-year Humber College civil engineering student Aaron Bendici, 19, said his experience with online courses weren’t the greatest.

“I was in an online class where the professor had only laid out all the readings and assignments,” Bendici said. “There was nothing after that.”

Bendici said the professor’s work was much reduced as she only had to mark the assignments.

DeCourcy said it’s unfortunate for professors to be inactive for an online course as the professors are supposed to make the courses engaging.

“Back in 2013, we set standards to create interaction with the professors and students,” she said.

DeCourcy said memos are sent to the professor to remind them of what is needed to help make an online class a better learning experience for the students.

Bendici said Workplace could create an environment where it would be easier to ask the professor for help as well as asking other students.

“Through Facebook and Workplace, it would be easier to ask the prof and students questions because Facebook is a commonly used network,” he said.

If Workplace could be implemented through online classes at Humber, Bendici and Mitchell both said it would get more students to enroll in online courses.

DeCourcy said Humber reviews the latest technologies to test content and software, choosing a product only if it creates a better learning experience for students to learn.

Workplace is in its early stages, but like many other technology services, it may be only a matter of time before it becomes a mainstream service.

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