Would you (or do you) friend your students on Face Book?
I asked this question amongst my co-workers a few weeks ago, and they all responded with a loud NO!!! The primary reason is that they believe that there should be some space between a teacher's life and the student's life. Also, they were afraid of the unknown. What if the student were to see something....what if the teacher were to see something....or the parent? These were all very valid reasons.
Yet I came across a blog post from The Innovative Educator who asked some very thought provoking questions. "How differently might a student/child's life have turned out if a trusted teacher, mentor, adult been in their life? How might an adult's life been enriched if they knew there were students who were looking to them in their online life?"
To go a bit deeper....the student who has been absent for 4 days might never tell you why or where they were, but you might discover that they had a death in the family on facebook. You might be able to see pictures of their travels and as they grow throughout the years.
The other argument, is being a digital role model. Who is going to teach students how to use the web in an appropriate manner if not for the teachers? It's an unstructured environment where the students feel like they can say or do anything without any consequences. They need to be aware that what they put out there, stays out there, and now many potential job clients are using social media to learn more about their clients.
I do think that teaching students how to utilize social media is very important, however I'm not entirely sold on friending them. I think the best way is for teachers to create a fan page, and have the class sign on there. Create weekly discussion posts, and have the class work together from there.
What has been your experience with facebook and students?