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Facebook Boundaries

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School technologist Doug Johnson is skeptical about the educational usefulness of Facebook, but thinks teachers should use it just to get a sense of the medium. As to the ongoing question of whether teachers should "friend" their students, he says, in essence, you gotta be kidding me. ...

6 Comments

I'm the parent of teenagers and a teacher, and I'm an active FB'er. I don't "friend" my kids or their friends, nor any of my students. FB is for my college and prep school buddies and other community members; I draw a hard line between myself and the children in my life. The only things I post on my FB page are family pictures, some short stories and a few life updates.

I am a strong believer in using tools that appeal to youth when educating youth. But there are some significant issues related to public social networks such as Facebook that would make me reluctant to consider it as an educational platform. The alternative is to use private social networks. Many teachers and schools have developed social networking platforms on open source products like Ning. I have recently discovered a private academic social networking platform aimed at marginalized youth initially, here in Toronto where I live and work. It is called Recess and is being used at Canada's largest school board, the TDSB. The initial deployment is in primary grade schools (K-8)with the goal to empower children to embrace education. It is more structured than Facebook. Students post profiles. Teachers post profiles. Teachers set up classrooms. Students are assigned to classrooms. News, homework, calendar, blogs, events....all are posted on the social network to facilitate a 24 x 7 extension of the classroom to wherever a student can get Internet access. Recess includes a rewards program for participation and academic success, and a mentorship program to link students to local and nationally recognized role models. This type of private social network doesn't have the same challenges as Facebook. It runs under the administration of the school. It has a built-in code of conduct and appropriate filtering and rules that eliminate bullying or inappropriate content. At the same time the school can set its own parameters and rules as well. Oversight makes this a safe place for youth. In pilot studies Recess combined with other activities turned around one of Toronto's problem schools very quickly. The students embraced it even after the school year was over, using it right through the summer months, staying connected to classmates. You can check it out at www.meetatrecess.com.

I do not believe that teachers should "friend" any of their students. I think that is extremely unprofessional and unnecessary. The teachers role is to be an authotative figure and role model. If a students sees inappropriate image or comment on the teachers page, then they will have differnet views of the teacher in the classroom. It will be common that the students will spread the news and it could become a classroom issue that easily could have been avoided. I believe that the teacher will loose the respect of her students and the students will suffer in the classroom.

I do not believe that teachers should "friend" any of their students. I think that is extremely unprofessional and unnecessary. The teachers role is to be an authotative figure and role model. If a students sees inappropriate image or comment on the teachers page, then they will have differnet views of the teacher in the classroom. It will be common that the students will spread the news and it could become a classroom issue that easily could have been avoided. I believe that the teacher will loose the respect of her students and the students will suffer in the classroom.

I an totally against friending your students. Beside the fact that students do not need to know details about their teacher's life and past, it takes the role of an authoritative figure to some what of a "friend." This could be the start of an avalanche of problems. As a teacher, facebook should be for friends and family only...not students.

I am totally against friending your students. Beside the fact that students do not need to know details about their teacher's life and past, it takes the role of an authoritative figure to some what of a "friend." This could be the start of an avalanche of problems. As a teacher, facebook should be for friends and family only...not students.

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  • Len Rosen: I am a strong believer in using tools that appeal read more

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