|The teacher-student network|
|Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board|
|Thursday, 19 April 2012 14:00|
Can you imagine if you had been Facebook friends with your teachers in high school? The question of whether this is appropriate or should be allowed is being raised all over the country, according to an article from MSNBC.
Over 40 school districts nationwide have decided to allow teachers to connect with students via Facebook. Other areas have simply lessened their restrictive rules due to complaints from teachers.
Of course, the reason that the topic is so salient in the education community is because administrators and educators are trying to balance the potential benefits of utilizing trending mediums of communication with the potential hazards of inappropriate contact.
In New York and Florida for example, a couple of teachers are fueling a media fire over inappropriate Facebook conduct. One teacher commented on a student’s picture saying “this is sexy,” and another teacher commented on a student’s relationship issue, and reportedly went too far.
But some teachers think the benefits may outweigh the regrettable actions of a few. Teachers are saying that email is a dying form of communication (like the letter) and think schools should try to stay relevant. They argue that they have to do what they can to keep the students engaged.
We believe there are many reasons to stay away from it, however. First, teachers should want to stay away from it just to keep themselves protected. Any student could try to misconstrue a comment or action if they are upset about a grade, for instance.
Also, teachers typically want to keep their private lives hidden from students. In order to avoid this, some have gone against Facebook policy and created two separate accounts.
On that note, one would think that students wouldn’t want their teachers to see everything in their social lives. And even with privacy settings, it’s hard to keep anything you post on the Internet purely private information.
Speaking of email as a dying art, students still need to learn about formal letters and professionalism. We don’t want graduating high school seniors going to college and emailing their professors, “Hey, how r u?” In higher education and the professional world, students and employees are largely responsible for checking their email everyday and being proficient communicators. Jumping on the bandwagon to be hip with students and keep them engaged can result in less professional development.
However, we think the discussion will be completely different when our generation starts dominating the field, because we won’t have created a Facebook account in our 30s or older as a fun outreach method. We will have had our Facebook accounts through our “crazy” college years, with questionable pictures to prove it.
In some cases where teachers have violated Facebook policy but were not necessarily behaving inappropriately, the question has become a First Amendment issue. So, right now we are in a weird space where we can’t be too restrictive, but can’t be too lenient either. It will be interesting to see how school districts will reconcile the two camps.
It may be impossible to completely avoid these types of online social interactions, but it is also impossible to come up with a comprehensive set of guidelines for usage if it is encouraged. All we know now is that despite possible benefits, it toes the line and email is still relevant enough.