An ongoing battle I had been waging in my mind started over six months ago while watching an officer with the Reading police force during an eighth grade-wide presentation. The presentation was on social networking sites such as myspace and facebook, and how students presenting all of their personal information for the world to see were putting themselves in some potentially dangerous situations.
The results of some of the more tragic consequences shared by the officer were not nearly as shocking as the percentage of hands raised in the room after the question “how many of you have a facebook account?” Easily nine-tenths of the students had their hands up, a teacher’s dream in a classroom!
I mused over this for a few days. “All of these students are spending time on facebook, how can I steal a chunk of that teenager attention span for education? What are the possible problems that could result from communicating with students through facebook? How would students feel about connecting with their teacher on facebook? How would their parents feel?“
The dream of having science quiz reminders and links to “cool” websites promoting the sciences embedded in their often checked “newsfeed” danced in my mind. The thought of a highly visible “help desk” where students could simply post questions, in a way that any student with a similar problem might read it (and my subsequent recommendation) danced about.
Meanwhile fears of personal and professional lives intersecting, the possibility of inadvertently establishing an inappropriate student-teacher relationship, and public misunderstandings surrounding social networking sites all lurked in the shadows.
But yesterday I sunk my teeth in and truly explored the facebook world beyond my personal profile page and its assorted applications. I found I had been ignoring a simple, but recently upgraded feature that will realize all my hopes and assuage my fears… I can not wait to share it with next year’s class! Unfortunately the free time ran dry, but I soon expect to share with my facebook world my page in hopes that my friends/family and maybe even a few strangers will help me tweak it now for a smooth September transition to the students!