Teachers and Facebook

Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: September 27, 2011

Missouri’s attempt to legally ban students and teachers from chatting on Facebook mystifies me. I understand what they’re trying to accomplish, but a law to enforce it? That’s seems like a knee-jerk, paranoid reaction.

I recently learned a local high school discourages Facebook contact between staff and students. A coach mentions she feels it’s inappropriate to friend students, which is fine if that’s her personal preference. But then the athletic director has this to say:

Pekin does not have a policy which prohibits the use of Facebook. However, athletics director Rick Kestner said, “I do think that Facebook contact is risky by coaches and I prefer other more traditional ways for our coaches to contact student-athletes with information. I see Facebook and other similar media as a potential trap that can ensnare a coach before they know it. Phone calls or texting are acceptable alternatives.”

So… inappropriate contact can happen on Facebook, but not by phone or text? Maybe he didn’t follow the news when Brett Favre got busted last year for sending explicit voicemails and messages to a woman’s phone.

A benefit of this contact occurring on Facebook is it’s easy to track. If the alleged contact doesn’t take place on a public Facebook Wall, it’s a simple matter of the student or teacher hitting a print button or taking screen shots.

But this assumes there’s no other viable use for Facebook. If there’s an emergency cancellation or announcement, would it not make sense to post it to a heavily trafficked website? If most students have Facebook accounts (and most of ours sure do), why not put it where you’re sure they’ll see it?

Furthermore, there’s a simple solution to all of this: Facebook Pages.

I decided to create a Facebook Page for the EdTech Samurai today. When someone chooses to create a page, they are asked which category the page fits. Lo and behold, public figures has a built-in teachers category:

Facebook Page setup
Public Figure sounds about right for teachers.

Now a teacher can create a page separate from all of their personal information. They can post classroom or athletic announcements and interact with students, and those students will not have to be privy to all of the teacher’s private data on their personal Wall.

This protects the teacher as well as the student:

  1. All teacher-student Facebook interaction now occurs in public view.
  2. Students (and anyone else) simply Like the page instead of becoming a Friend. Now the teacher can’t be accused of playing favorites by friending one student and ignoring others.
  3. Students don’t have access to the teacher’s personal information, as well as who their family and friends are. (We worry about teachers being predatory toward students, but what about student crushes on teachers?)
  4. It maintains a professional appearance.

Not to mention it’s a lot more convenient: I know my family & friends on Facebook would be bored to tears if I started discussing edtech topics on my Facebook page all day.

Our students are hooked on Facebook. This is how they choose to communicate. I see no reason we shouldn’t find a safe way to be right there with them.

1 Comment
  1. Steve Hayes says:

    If a person drove 75 MPH in a school zone, would the appropriate response be to ban the use of that road? No! Plain and simple, it’s the illegal action on which people need to focus on. Paranoia about Facebook seems to be common among those who do not use it.

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