I am all for effective use of social media in the classroom, when working with our students. The one thing that I am having trouble with though, and seeing over and over again is the thought of “friending” students on the network and how teachers are getting frustrated with laws in states that are prohibiting this. Now that there has to be a law for something that should be common sense might be going overboard, but this is what is happening right now in Missouri as well as other areas in North America. (There is way more to this story than simply the “friending” issue, but it is at the heart of it.)
Here is my own personal guidelines for Facebook with students. While they are students or minors, we should never “friend” them. When they are done K-12, then it is fine, but I think while students are in school, friending them is not the best idea.
Vicki Davis reiterated my beliefs on the topic (ironically using Facebook as the platform)
(Vicki also has a great post on Facebook use for educators.)
It is not that you can’t use Facebook in schools. My former school had a Facebook page that we used to share information with students and parents to communicate information. I have also seen many teachers create a Facebook page to have discussions in their classroom or share things such as an agenda. The difference between a “page” and “friending” students is that if your privacy settings are set correctly, students are not able to see personal information about you.
The concern is not that YOU will do something that is inappropriate (you would always be mindful of your digital footprint right?), but I have a lot of my own friends who are not educators who are free to post on my wall, who may not be as mindful of their digital footprint as I am. There is also times when you can easily get spam on your wall from a friend when they have accidentally clicked a link and spammed it out to everyone. As you can see from my screen schot of Vicki’s work, it is not that hard to capture what is posted on a wall and share it with the world easily misinterpreting something.
So am I off? Is there something I am missing in this area? I truly believe in the importance of strong relationships with our students, but there are always lines; this is one that I believe we should not cross.