I heard a comment the other day that teenagers now access social networking sites more than anything else (including adult sites). This has become the world they live in. Today's student uses Facebook, MySpace or one of the other up and coming sites to blog, post pictures, connect with friends and sometimes communicate with complete strangers. They put their most intimate details available for all the world to see. While I am a proponent of these sites and will continue to preach their value to education as a whole (as long as the users abide by the moral rules), there is one glarring topic I would like to address: Student / Teacher interaction on these sites.
While these sites are most popular with teenagers, there are many young teachers who are just recently out of college or grew up using these sites - who post their lives on the web as well. I have a MySpace page. While my page and its content is private and only available to my 97 friends, what if I received a friend request from a student at the high school or a player who I coached in soccer? This is where the line of social networking and education/schools needs to be drawn. While I believe these sites allow our students to be creative, communicate and share information - this type of interaction with their teachers, coaches or administrators is not acceptable. It should be the adults who are intelligent enough to communicate this expectation to their students. If our teachers emphasized the value of social networking, while also pointing out its potential dangers and barriers - I believe our students would embrace it.
Student / teacher interaction on social networking sites has made national news. A majority of the time it is the teacher who is the predator and seeking some sort of intimate interaction with his/her students. However, sometimes the interaction can be that of a student finding pictures, videos or other information about their teacher/coach/administrator that would be damning to someone's career. Educators must be intelligent about the information they place on these sites and ensuring they are secure for only friends to view.
Here is an interesting read w/ feedback about student/teacher relationships on social networking sites:
Here is an article that I read early today on eSchool News that prompted my post above.
Social Networking has transformed our ability to communicate, share and inform. Let's continue to educate our users (both young and old) on how to responsibly use this tool to enhance our daily lives.
JDS | CIO