What a hot topic this is!

Do you friend students on Facebook?

Do you follow them on Twitter?

Do you use social media to communicate with students and families?

Do you even want to go there?  Some teachers do not and others say that friending students online is a natural extension of their job as teacher.

This is and has been my personal policy on the use of FB with students: [blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/eliza_peterson/status/2156449262211072″]

I can’t help it.  I play it safe and don’t want that line to be crossed.  On the other hand, I can see the benefits of utilizing SM (social media) in school.  Often, I have thought it might be good to start a “Mrs. Peterson” fan page, where it is a teacher profile of me.  But word on the street (and actually straight from my Superintendent’s mouth) is that teachers in my district are highly discouraged (and may be banned) from using Facebook as a means to communicate with students.

There must be some happy medium here.  I can certainly see both viewpoints.

One way I have found to use Twitter in my classroom is by creating a new Twitter handle for me as a teacher: @MrsEPeterson.  During the day, I will tweet using my Droid about what we are doing in class, often uploading pictures using Twitpics.  I cleared the idea with my principal who knows that the stream of my tweets can be viewed on my classroom website.  And even though Twitter (and FB) is blocked at school, my students’ families can see the stream from their homes.

At a recent #edchat, there was talk about changing the name to “learning media” [blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/BeckyFisher73/status/2150641921163265″] but after some conversation online, including a good point made by my buddy @brophycat [blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/brophycat/status/2162081709170689″] my final thought on that idea was – [blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/eliza_peterson/status/2164873827979264″]

The fact of the matter is that we can’t change what social media is and what it does: it connects people and if the power of SM is harnessed, then what a powerful tool it could be for learning!

Here’s some food for thought – We may be expected to teach students how to use social media responsibly.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/findingDulcinea/status/2167296529268736″]

Personally, I consider this almost akin to teaching Sex Ed (There! I said it!)  It is something that children and young adults will come across early in their life and it carries some risk.  Yes, parents should be teaching their children about it at home, but it also becomes the school system’s responsibility.  I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this!

DON’T get me wrong, I think educating students about SM is important.  In fact, it is something that needs to be addressed in school for a variety of reasons.  Most importantly, it is a reality to our students!  They want to be social online, they crave it and we would be remiss if we lost out on this opportunity!

Do I have a solution?  Hmmmm…..  Well, I have a couple of ideas.

First, would be to educate administration on the benefits and pitfalls of SM in the classroom.  Part of this would be to encourage them to join a network, such as Twitter where they can come in contact with other administrators who could share ideas, successes and failures with SM and technology in general.  This would also help provide them with the resources to help implement the next idea.

Second, would be to assist teachers in their use of SM.  This would involve education and netiquette for proper use of networking sites.  Our main focus would have to be on ways to use various means of social media in a highly professional way.  Maybe the solution is for teachers who want to involve SM in their teaching to NOT use their personal accounts.  Just as you wouldn’t give students your home phone number to call, you wouldn’t give them all access to your personal information on Facebook.  (That’s where I think you are asking for some kind of trouble down the road.)

Third, would of course be to educate the students and families on proper use of SM.  This is probably something that should happen anyway.  Parents want to learn how to protect their children online while giving them the opportunity to use SM.

Finally – implementation!  Student blogging is one way to start.  With blogging, using a platform such as kidblog.org, students can reflect on their learning, accept comments from other students and write comment as well.

Another site that came up on #edchat was schoology.com.  This site appears to have many great possibilities as it mixes a Facebook-style page (with comments, pics, links and social interaction) with classroom learning features such as assignments, document uploads and a calendar.

There is a case for Social Media in our classrooms.  With the proper tools and training, SM (including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and much more!) could truly be an integral part of our teaching.  It is here and it is not going away.  If we take the opportunity to use it thoughtfully, the possibilities could lead to much success!

What are your thoughts?  Do you use SM in your classroom?  Do you have a success story? What are your fears with using SM as a teacher?

Please leave a comment so we can learn from one another! 🙂