Where do you stand on Facebooking with students?

It’s a hotly debated topic, and for obvious reasons. At one end of the spectrum, it can be argued that Facebooking with students blurs the line of appropriate student-instructor relationships. At the opposite end, it can be argued that Facebook helps foster student-instructor relationships and can be used to support educational programs.

Screenshot of HuffPo College article

FRIEND OR FOE: New arguments arise in the debate on Facebooking with students

The latest story I’ve come across on the topic is this Huffington Post article by Emily Wall, Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska Southeast. She nearly “always says yes” when her students friend request her on Facebook. Her reason: It helps her get to know her students on a personal level, understand where they’re at in life, and get clued into the highs and lows they’re going through. This, she writes, “makes it easier for me to teach them.”

That’s just the nutshell of her position, and I encourage you to take a look at her article for her full reasoning. From where I sit, I certainly agree that Facebook and other social media platforms can be great tools to enrich learning. In fact, students in two of my online Master of Education courses are using Twitter to expand their personal learning networks. (I hope to write more about that soon.)

However, as I wrote in the comment I left for Emily, I don’t think we can forget that instructors are in a position to grade their students’ work. That creates a professional setting that should be respected online. But on the same token, this doesn’t mean students and instructors shouldn’t interact at all using social media. I gave my solution to the matter in my comment on Huffington Post.

Click over for my thoughts on how instructors can create a professional learning environment using social media. When you’re done, come back here and let us know your take on the issue. Do you Facebook with your students? Why or why not?

One Comment

  1. This is a subject I'm very interested in, as you know!. A while back I wrote up a post as a response to a question on Facebook:

    http://educationalexperimentalist.com/wp/?p=618

    In a nutshell, I think it can be a very interesting and dynamic way to make yourself "real" especially to online students. There are wise boundaries to follow, just like in any classroom, and if you aren't willing to do that, then you should stay away from adding current students.

    Like Prof Wall that you mentioned above, I almost always say "yes" when students add me. I don't go looking for them to add first. When the semester is over, I sometimes unfriend students who post a lot of flotsam (for lack of a better word).

    Interacting on Facebook and Twitter gives me a chance to model what social media *can* be, to help students take it beyond wondering what Ashton has for lunch. It can be a very engaging, dynamic communication space, if you spend the time to build up your network. I've written about this also:

    http://educationalexperimentalist.com/wp/?p=617

    Feel free to follow me!

    Debby Kurti
    Instructor, Post EDU 505/ EDU 520
    Twitter: debbyk/ChangeEd
    Facebook: DebbyK

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