#edchat #elearning #edtech How much longer are districts going continue to blog Facebook?
Now I am not saying that you open it up to the students, although that wouldn’t half-bad, but at least the teachers should be allowed on Facebook. Last week I was talking to a high school math teacher that was concerned about communicating with her students – things like homework assignments and chapters to study. She explained that she meticulously kept her classroom webpage up to date, but her students never went there. “I only get about 3 visitors a day,” she explained. “And I teach over 100 kids a week.” When I suggested that she make a fan page for herself on Facebook, she replied that her school district has a strict policy against that and suggested that she could be fired for doing so.
Unfortunately she is not alone. Many districts feel this way about social media. I believe it is because they do not understand how to correctly use it. So let me explain a few points about how to properly use Facebook as a teacher.
First, I am not talking about “friending” all of your students to your personal Facebook account. That would be creepy. Your students would see every update you make and you would see all of there’s. What I am talking about is making a “fan” page for yourself, a special type of Facebook account that your students would simply “like” and then every time you make an update to that account, like adding a homework assignment, all of your students would see it on their own Facebook accounts. It is a one-way communication – you don’t see their updates.
Second, go where your students are. Students check their Facebook accounts multiple times a day, I know because I have a 16 year old daughter. Trust me; they would see your updates. At my school we have a Facebook account and the parents love it. We post all sorts of updates; book fairs, concerts, registration reminders, etc. It has been one of the best ways to get information to our parents. To see what this looks like check my school’s Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timnath-CO/Bethke-Elementary-School/141914602496111 (of course you can only do this if it isn’t blocked!)
Third, be careful what you post. Your teacher or school fan page should be strictly business, nothing personal. No photos!
Fourth, be careful not to abuse this privilege. Many administrators worry that if they unblock Facebook that teachers will waste time always checking in on it. This is a very real concern, but this is more of a “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” type of problem. Teacher who want to waste time online already do. They shop, check their email a 100 times a day, plan their vacations, etc. This type of problem is with the teacher, not Facebook.
In conclusion, let’s try to work with our districts and try to get them to carefully go down the path to social media. Beg for a trial-period to test things out and then see what happens. In business they say to go where the people are to make money, in education let’s go where are students are. So if that is Facebook, then let’s do it.
For more information on using Facebook as an educator see the workshop by Heather Slee; "Facebook for Educators" on Atomic Learning.