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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Friends with students on Facebook: acceptable or not?

Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) is a branch of philosophy which seeks to address questions about morality; that is, about concepts such as good and bad, right and wrong, justice, and virtue.

So are teachers adding their students to Facebook breaking the code of ethics for the teacher/student relationship? Is it going too far? Is it just giving teachers and students a way to communicate without supervision? Or is it more about the access to personal information and photos?

I've asked a lot of people their opinion on this topic, students, parents and teachers across the globe. I started a Google doc, and tweeted asking my followers to comment and give their opinion on it, and asked my Facebook friends to do the same. I asked many of my friends their opinions and got answers like:


"as long as the level of maturity is kept appropriate I don't see a problem with it"


"I think if a teacher were to add a student without the student asking the teacher, it might impose certain uncomfortable feelings on the student, since the teacher has a position of authority over the student. So, the student may feel obligated to accept the Facebook friendship and things may become awkward from there on. Generally, I would say yes it is acceptable.”

When I think of the student/teacher friends on Facebook I always think it is a way of giving them a way to speak without supervision, but emailing does that as well. But I think that may also be the fact that I watch way to many TLC specials on online stalkers and such. Like other social networking sites being friends on Facebook give teachers a way to talk to their students about problems they are having in the classroom who are afraid to speak up. But does that make it okay to add your students on Facebook? Many different people have different opinions on this topic. A lot of teachers I have spoken to, that I do have on Facebook say it's okay once they are no longer your student and have graduated.

I've been hearing lately about teachers who have two accounts. A professional account where they put the basic information, a profile picture and let who ever add them to Facebook, this gives them a way to talk to their students about what is going on in the classroom, and find out more about their insight, which they may not feel comfortable sharing face to face, or aloud in front of the classroom. Then they have their normal account, where they upload pictures and have their personal friends and family and have it blocked so that their students cannot see it. I personally like this idea, it gives students a way to have more trust I find in their teacher, and I was that the teacher can incorporate technology into a classroom instead of just lecturing and listening.

Like anything there are variables to this very touchy subject. Its really up to the teacher whether or not they choose to have two accounts, add students to Facebook, or wait until they are graduated and have moved on. When I become a teacher, I think I'll go with the two accounts, then I wont have to constantly worry about what I'm posting, and what my students will see. But that also goes to say, what type of things are you doing that you don't want your students seeing, and do you really want the rest of the world to see too?

I read this excellent article about this subject, and got a lot of information from it; I think it's definitely worth checking out!

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/tech/news/6174564.html

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