More and more teachers are now using social media in their classrooms. That’s a far cry from the recent resistance of students not allowed to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or MySpace at school. That doesn’t mean a majority of these educators are using the social media tools yet. Like anything that’s new to teaching there will be those who vehemently oppose it such as parents, school boards and other citizens.
These students are now becoming more exposed to world events, pop culture and other news where the old way of teaching will soon become obsolete. You cannot deny the benefits these social media accounts bring by way of communication. Unfortunately there is a negative side to social media that can be damaging to teachers if they’re not careful. Whether teachers use Facebook and Twitter on a professional or personal level be aware of the advantages and disadvantages.
Teachers Advantages with Social Media Accounts
1.) When a teacher must use MySpace, Facebook or text messaging there is a clear record of the message. One school district in Washington State requires the coaches and teachers to carbon copy cc: their supervisor if they must contact students.
2.) If a teacher assigns a group project they can have students register for Google accounts. From there they can collaborate by using the Google Docs where they don’t have to be in person with the teacher to work on their assignment. They can simply retrieve the document and post their own piece.
3.) The school districts that allow Facebook and other social media accounts for students must delete all of their inappropriate materials they have in it already. This can make the student more aware of their actions in the long run.
4.)Skype is a great social media tool to connect with a school group in another part of the world. You may have seen the television commercial where a classroom in the U.S. is interacting by way of computer to another classroom in China.
5.) Twitter is an excellent social media tool for educators as it deals in real-time. This is a great way for them to network and interact with one another across the country.
Disadvantages for Teachers with Facebook and Twitter
1.) The most obvious disadvantage would be a school board, school district or administrator not allowing teachers to use any of social media in the classroom or on school grounds.
2.) Having a Facebook can be a blessing or a curse. There may be things from a teacher’s past that come to haunt them in their teaching career. Two such cases involved teachers in Pennsylvania with their controversial postings on Facebook that led to their suspension. One was of a photo from a teacher posing with a stripper and the other posted a threat. Be extremely careful what you post on the internet.
3.) A recent article in my local newspaper, St. Petersburg Times, had a story about a bill collector who tracked down someone from their Facebook account and contacted their family members. The same thing could apply to parents who are disgruntled with the way a teacher treats their child. Perhaps the teacher gave them a low grade or disciplined them the wrong way. It can set the teacher up for harassment.
4.) Whatever you post on Twitter is available for everyone to see, especially students. At least with Facebook you can set it to private. My brother is a teacher and only has a private Facebook account for his personal use. He does not have Twitter, MySpace or YouTube.
5.) An all too common story nowadays are inappropriate encounters with teachers and students. It isn’t socially acceptable for a teacher to date a student while in session openly or discreetly. There is a decorum of professionalism at all times. The same would apply with friending a student on Facebook or following them on Twitter. Teachers and students need to have their own separate lives.
Of course these social media accounts have great advantages as valuable teaching tools. Even with Twitter and its real-time communication for educators to connect with one another instantly is something unheard of less than ten years ago. On the personal side for teachers these social media tools need to be used very cautiously. If school districts and teachers can amicably come up with solutions to use social media tools in the classroom the students will be happier.
Melissa Wagner, “Should Teachers and Students Be Facebook Friends?”, KIMA TV
Ned Smith, “Teachers Embracing Social Media in the Classroom”, Tech News Daily
“6 Ways Teachers Can Use Social Media for Education”, Hosam Mansour
Michael Aubele, “Social media pose dilemma for Western Pennsylvania teachers”, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review