There is a growing backlash in some communities and states wanting to forbid teachers from using social networking and text messaging to communicate with students. Based on the argument that online “friending” crosses the appropriate boundary between teacher and student, these communities are proposing laws that would forbid it.
What do you think? You can vote below.
I think we are killing the messenger (or the medium) when the real problem lies with a few bad teachers who have taken advantage of their position to have illegal (i.e. sexual) relationships with minors. Just because most of the teacher/student sexual relationships that have hit the news also involve online communication, does not warrant condemning the social networks themselves. Any high school science student should know that correlation does not imply causation. Or in simpler terms, we want to keep the baby and just toss the bath water.
Here are a few of the developments that prompted this post. Per CNN Missouri House Representative Jane Cunningham sponsored a bill that would ban Missouri elementary school teachers from having social-networking friendships with their students. And the Lamar County School Board in Missouri has “implemented a policy forbidding teachers and students from having any text-message conversations or social-networking friendships.”
I, however, think that social networking platforms can be a great tool for student-teacher communication. Because the kids are already using the medium, and it simply gives teachers another way to do their job.
Yes, it can be tricky drawing the appropriate line between public and private, but everyone who uses the Internet (email, blogs, online comments, social networking, social bookmarking, photo sharing) has to grapple with this issue. And these lines are blurring for everyone. Remember Stacy Snyder, the student who was denied a teaching certificate because of a caption on a MySpace picture?
These tough issues will not go away. But I think that legislating our way out of them is the wrong approach. Let’s keep the lines of communication open.
Here are some of the articles referenced in this post:
CNN: Online student-teacher friendships can be tricky
Randy Turner: Teachers and MySpace
Please vote in this poll, and leave a comment with your thoughts below the poll.
Hi Mrs. feldman,
I couldn’t agree with you more that social networking has tremendous application and potential in the classroom. Of course, this is only possible if it is done correctly. Facebook and MySpace may be too risky of holding environments, so I suggest a more education-specific approach. Designed by teachers, FatClass (www.fatclass.com) allows educators to create “FatClasses” around the subjects they teach. They can share files, communicate through blogs, post forums and add each other as network friends. However, there are some limits and controls to help keep everything more manageable. I believe they will even be offering tweeting and sms. Just an idea…
Hi Mrs. feldman,
I couldn’t agree with you more that social networking has tremendous application and potential in the classroom. Of course, this is only possible if it is done correctly. Facebook and MySpace may be too risky of holding environments, so I suggest a more education-specific approach. Designed by teachers, FatClass allows educators to create “FatClasses” around the subjects they teach. They can share files, communicate through blogs, post forums and add each other as network friends. However, there are some limits and controls to help keep everything more manageable. I believe they will even be offering tweeting and sms. Just an idea…
Bill Fricker says
The issue of using social networking with students needs to be affirmatively answered for more than teacher preference. Today’s students need to know how to use social networking and how to link it to further education, career development and lifelong general interest.
Educators took more than one generation to debate use of calculators. This seems to be a good parallel as there were pros and cons involved in the eventual adoption of calculators.
How can we expect tomorrow’s productivity to come from an irrational denial of collaborative tools? And by the way, social networking will likely survive without educators’ specific endorsement. Should our system force students to go beyond schools to get the skills and tools they will need?
Randy Turner says
We are expecting another attempt to pass the law in Missouri. The CNN article quoted me accurately, but it was incorrect in other ways. As far as I have been able to determine, the 11 instances of inappropriate teacher/student relationships mentioned in the article had nothing whatsoever to do with social networking sites. The original bill also had no mention of the sites. That came in committee after the St. Louis-area incident in which a woman pretending to be a teenaged boy started a relationship with one of her daughter’s former friends. Then when she “broke up” with the friend, the girl committed suicide and MySpace became a convenient scapegoat.
it is the pupils and parents who abuse the teachers and not the other way round!!sexual abuse by teachers alway ocured even before the computer age! so this shouldnt even be enterd into the equation This is similar to the giving of the home number to pupils so they can contact you any time.. this time its the computer not the phone!! since it was improper then it is improper now!
Leigh Newton says
Education departments around the world need to maintain some balance on such issues. A gut response that bans such interactions is naive and simplistic. It