Amazingly, to me, at least, students found it withing minutes and became fans (kind of like becoming friends, but with an organization). And many of our alumni, who have returned home after completing their studies with us, were becoming fans around the clock. This is without any kind of conventional publicity or even me saying to a student, “We are on Facebook.” Totally viral.
In the past, we’ve (ok, I’ve) tried to create this kind of community via our own Moodle, but students couldn’t be bothered to join. But now, on Facebook, we’ve literally brought the mountain to the Mohammeds. Although not appropriate for all ages, this tool can be a great addition to an ESL teachers bag of tricks. (See Bob Eckhart’s article on using Facebook in the classroom in Ohio TESOL Journal, v1 n1.)
And, in addition to building community within our program, we’re hoping this becomes an effective form of recruiting for our program. It’s cheaper than flying to a recruitment fair, but, somehow, it doesn’t feel quite like flying around the world and meeting prospective students. I guess it’s the next best thing.