Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Can teachers be students' Facebook friends? (Houston Chronicle article)

I haven't jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, and I don't have any intention of doing so in the near future. I have my hands full with several personal and group accounts on both Friendster and Multiply, and I kinda still maintain my Blogspot, so that's enough for me. This article still hooked me in though.

My answer is YES - as long as the teacher knows his/her boundaries (whether we're talking about real or virtual interaction with students), and still maintains a professional relationship with his/her students (posts for my peers, for example, should not be set as viewable by EVERYONE).
Similarly, if students want to 'friend' their teachers on social networking sites, they must also realize that whatever they post as viewable by 'Everyone' is also open to criticism or whatnot from 'Everyone' as well. The responsibility belongs to both sides of the fence.

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Teachers face dilemma with Facebook
Educators find benefits, pitfalls when adding students as friends on the social networking Web site

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Dec. 20, 2008, 11:27PM


What seems like an easy question — Will you be my friend? — is not necessarily so for teachers who have joined the Facebook phenomenon.

The social-networking Web site, whose popularity has grown from the college crowd down to teens and up to boomers, poses a prickly question for teachers who want to connect with their tech-savvy students yet maintain professional boundaries.

Should teachers become virtual "friends" with their students?

Opinions are mixed. Opponents fear innocent educators will be branded sexual predators for chatting with students online, while proponents caution against overreacting to a powerful communication tool.

The issue made headlines this month after police accused a 42-year-old former Magnolia High School aide of having sexual exchanges with a 16-year-old former student he contacted via Facebook.

Such rare stories can alarm a community, said Melissa Pierson, who teaches instructional technology at the University of Houston, but educators shouldn't be afraid to use social-networking sites.

"Outside the classroom, in terms of connecting with students, there are some exciting possibilities," said Pierson, who also directs UH's teacher education program. "It's just, teachers need to keep their educator hats on."

Read the full article HERE.

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