I have thought often about whether or not teachers and students should be friends on social networking sites. When I get a job, the first thing that I will look at is whether or not my school division has a policy about this sort of thing. If your school division specifically states that this is prohibited, I would not do this. However, if the school division permits students and teachers to be friends on social networking sites I would have to think harder about this.
I definitely see some benefits for becoming friends with students on Facebook. It is a way of communicating and connecting. CNN wrote an article on the student-teacher friendships. One teacher, Turner, that they interviewed for this article states that he always felt that his students were disconnected with him because he was old enough to be some of the students grandfathers. However, by becoming friends on Facebook and twitter, he felt that they were opening up to him. He also felt that he could use Facebook as a tool to help with tutoring and homework problems that did not get addressed in the classroom. This article also discusses how some teachers have used this in an inappropriate way. Turner says that there have been very few teachers that have used social networking in an inappropriate way, but this has put a negative stigma with teacher and students social networking.
Education.com site has also discussed this topic. In this article called Should Students and teachers be online “friends”?, states that yes teachers can easily help with homework and continue classroom discussions. However, the article also discusses that since a lot of personal information is put on sites like Facebook that this is blurring student teacher relationships.
For myself personally, I see both sides of the discussion and decided that I will not add my students as friends on Facebook. However, I will most like form a class wiki. This will be a place where they can submit assignments to me, have discussions, get help with schools, and discuss things such as careers, etc. I am a private person and so I am not comfortable with a lot of people being able to see everything going on in my life. I think that other sites like a wiki might make parents feel more comfortable if it was more of a professional setting. Why couldn’t parents be welcomed onto the wiki to see what their children have been up to. I am all for using technology as a means of communication with students but I don’t think that Facebook is the way to do it!