October 5, 2010

Professor, Will You Be My Facebook Friend? For Teachers And Students

This week’s blog comes from Guest Blogger, Sida Li. As a student and teaching assistant, Sida educates us about social media from a unique perspective!
Like most professions, in education there exists a line between work persona and personal life. There are things that teachers are willing to share with their students and things that they want to keep private. As more and more teachers adopt social media, they are faced with the dilemma of accepting or not accepting friend requests from current and past students. If you’re like me and have friended some of your teachers on Facebook (or if you’re a teacher and have friended some of your students on Facebook), here are a few things to keep in mind.

Facebook can be a great way to stay connected or reconnect with past teachers/students. It’s hard to stay in touch with teachers if all you’ve got is an old email address. Facebook can be a great way to maintain contact with current teachers and reconnect with past ones.

Group students / professors into a Friends List. Friends Lists allow you to assign different privacy settings to different people. If you don’t want your teachers or students to see certain photos or status updates, make use of this feature!

Starting a Facebook Group may make more sense. If you’re a teacher and want to encourage students to ask class-related questions on Facebook, starting a group is more efficient and prevents your wall from being flooded. If you’re a student, ask your teachers if they mind being asked questions on Facebook before you post on their wall or message them.

Rejected friend requests may cause hurt feeling. Students should keep in mind that teachers will have varying degrees of enthusiasm towards friend requests. Teachers should consider telling students their official policy for friend requests if they find many students friending them. For example, one of the professors I am friends with on Facebook requested that we wait until the end of the semester before adding him.

Does your school have rules against student – teacher interactions on social media? Teachers should be aware of any rules that might be in place where they teach. This summer, a school district in Florida set guidelines that stated, “It is inappropriate for employees to communicate, regardless of the reason, with current students enrolled in the district on any public social networking website.”

Where do you draw the line between professional and personal life? Teachers may feel uncomfortable opening their Facebook profile to their students. They may also feel uncomfortable with being able to see what their students are doing outside of the classroom. After all, teachers are put into a sticky situation if a student posts inappropriate pictures or status updates.

How do you feel about friending your professors / your students? Have you done it? Would you consider interacting with them on Twitter instead?

Tags: Best Practices, Facebook

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