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Students as friends

 
 
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 08:01 am
Is it ethical to be friends with your students in facebook, twitter or other social networks while they are still enrolled in your class?
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Type: Question • Score: 7 • Views: 2,216 • Replies: 13

 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 08:07 am
@PhoebeKate,
The Ontario College of Teachers does not recommend it.

http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110411/twitter-students-facebook-110411/20110411/?hub=TorontoNewHome
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 08:10 am
@ehBeth,
I suspect a lot of schools are going to be developing rules on this - should be at the superintendent level so that it's applied across all grades and classes, too. I see very little good coming out of it.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 01:14 pm
@jespah,
Agreed whether ethical or not - it is not a smart move - I can only see it being a problem.

Although now that I am an adult, if I had such an account, I'd like to "friend" some of my former teachers.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 01:21 pm
In the 1970s, on the college level, at the several institutions I attended, I was friends with many of my professors; I went to parties at their houses and visited with them personally in dining halls and on the Quad. That sort of behavior was encouraged; dating and/or sex was not, though it did occur.

(There was one extremely handsome professor of Political Science who always seemed to be surrounded by co-eds in various stages of drooling anticipation.)

Knowing the professors on a personal level enabled me to see them as hard-working individuals who came by their knowledge through deep study and it never seemed to influence my grades from them in any way, up or down.

Joe(didn't get me any extra time to complete any term papers either)Nation
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 02:19 pm
@PhoebeKate,
"Ethical" is an interesting framing.

As a teacher, I wouldn't want to do it. (I've had friend requests from former students that I've turned down.)

I don't think a teacher should be fired or disciplined for being friends with a student on a social network site.

But if a teacher asked, I also really wouldn't recommend it.

I think the sort of social situation that Joe talks about is different in a few ways (and has it's own drawbacks but is not universally a bad idea), especially in that the social interaction is (how to best put it) self-contained? The people involved are conscious at that moment that the other people involved are... involved. (I'm not at peak eloquence this afternoon.)

The problem with social networking sites is that it's really hard to remember who is involved -- who can see what. You post the sexy picture trying to get the attention of the cute boy in English and forget that your English teacher will see it, too. Or you post the sexy picture trying to make the cute guy you're interested in laugh, and forget that your students will see it too.

Ideally that doesn't happen, of course, but in practice it does, a lot.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 07:40 pm
@PhoebeKate,
Good question. I can't see why not. You do answer your students questions outside of class, right? Accessibility to ones professors can make the student/teacher relationship that much stronger.

Keeping the relationship professional (of course), the professor could help her or his students remain interested and involved in a much deeper discussion relevant to the course.

Some students (who might be shy in the classroom) might actually have a chance to get involved in the issues du jour.

But then again, the added work might not be attractive to the professor. So its a game of compromise and it all depends on the priorities of the teacher.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 08:25 pm
One of my friends among my colleagues told me about a student who rarely attended class and yet expected to pass. The instructor suggested the student withdraw rather than fail. A week later, the student asked the instructor to be her friend on facebook. The instructor was disgusted.

I would never allow a current or former student to be my FB friend. Jeez. Just writing it now sounds like Caspar the Friendly Ghost. Would you be my friend?

Like Joe, I had friends among faculty members, particularly in grad school. I never dated a faculty member from my department. That is a bad idea. However, I did date faculty members from other departments.

As a grad student, particularly as a non-traditional grad student, you may be the same age or older than many faculty members. You share an interest.

Also, like Joe, I found many of my profs to be hard-working people I admired.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 11:30 pm
@PhoebeKate,
PhoebeKate wrote:

Is it ethical to be friends with your students in facebook, twitter or other social networks while they are still enrolled in your class?



I'd not go near it.

I think it's a boundary breach and is fraught with a number of possible bad outcomes.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 11:32 pm
@Joe Nation,
Joe Nation wrote:

In the 1970s, on the college level, at the several institutions I attended, I was friends with many of my professors; I went to parties at their houses and visited with them personally in dining halls and on the Quad. That sort of behavior was encouraged; dating and/or sex was not, though it did occur.

(There was one extremely handsome professor of Political Science who always seemed to be surrounded by co-eds in various stages of drooling anticipation.)

Knowing the professors on a personal level enabled me to see them as hard-working individuals who came by their knowledge through deep study and it never seemed to influence my grades from them in any way, up or down.

Joe(didn't get me any extra time to complete any term papers either)Nation


I think at university level it is less concerning because the kids are more mature...but I think at that level you need to be careful about the boundaries. I was socially friendly with a number of staff when I was at uni too.....I would guess it is less common now though.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 May, 2011 11:34 pm
@tsarstepan,
That's an argument for a separate account you use with students.

Again, I'd be wary though and want to make the boundaries very clear. For instance, the teacher duty of care persists in such a situation.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2011 11:11 am
@dlowan,
I feel students are evolving and pushing the digital age further down the road at a greater pace then ever before. If the colleges and their professors don't follow their base, their reason d'etre, then the institution of higher education will be further fueling its critics regarding its relevance to the students' development and future.

The technological gap will far surpass the problems associated with the generation gaps that have existed for millenia. Either you invest the time in joining this tech savy generation or wave goodbye to them as they speed off into the future.
ehBeth
 
  4  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2011 07:59 pm
@tsarstepan,
Technological and social development do not necessarily occur simultaneously.
0 Replies
 
annwashere1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 May, 2011 03:03 pm
@sozobe,
Is this a good rule or just one made up to make the Ontario College of Teachers appear to be operating in the public interest. So a handful of teachers use Facebook to hook up with kids and do terrible things.... then it is a good directive. BUT we have a problem in Ontario. The Ontario College of Teachers allow sex offenders to teach in Ontario in spite of what happens to children, and adult victims who are forced to endear while walking into a classroom and Mr. So and So or Mrs. So and So who destroyed their sisters innocence or brothers innocence is now in charge of their classroom. The current Liberal Government is fully aware of this predicament and would prefer to do nothing while children are forced to be in the same room as repeat sex offenders. Does this sound outrageous. It should be. Here is the record that the Premier is fully aware and has done nothing to protect victims of grotesque sexual abuse. It is public knowledge but the not see liberal government keeps pretending they don't see what they have allowed to happen.
0 Replies
 
 

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