Innovative educators realize that to run for office, to run a business or to change the way things are run where one works or plays, being savvy with social media is important. You are ready to take the plunge with students to help them change their lives and the world for the better. Before you get started, consult with your school or district to find out guidelines and policies and keep these best practices in mind.
Some educators do not realize that they don’t need to friend students to interact with them online. You can create a page or group that students can “like” or join without being one another’s friend or seeing one another’s feed. Connecting with students via groups or pages is a great practice for educators concerned about keeping the lines of professional and personal separate.
Private groups serve as a terrific platform for communicating and collaborating with students on schoolwork. It is not necessary for the world to see what students are doing as they work on class projects. Groups provide a closed setting for teachers and students to share ideas, share work and keep conversations going.
Pages are great to publicly celebrate student accomplishments, inform folks of upcoming events and share schoolwide news. Here are two great examples of schools doing that: Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School and New Canaan High School Library.
When using Facebook with students, it’s a good idea to create roles. The roles may be held by staff, students or a combination. You might want to assign roles in advance, assign them as students’ online personalities emerge or allow students to apply for roles. Co-moderators can support you and take them helm if you are unavailable. Nurturers can greet people and provide positive feedback. Responders can comment and make sure everyone’s posts, ideas and contributions are recognized. Pushers can deepen the dialogue with probing questions. Sharers can find a good outside resource to enrich a conversation. Monitors can alert you to any activity that might be of concern.
Educators should consider having a strictly professional profile when communicating with students. This avoids confusion of privacy settings. It also keeps the lines of personal and professional clear. Additionally, once a personal account is used for professional purposes, it could be considered professional. This becomes a problem should an issue arise with a student that results in a request for access to the account.
Pioneering educators who have chosen to use Facebook with students have realized terrific rewards, including greater learner engagement, deeper conversations, improvement in literacy and greater participation than traditional classroom platforms. With these practices in mind, educators can realize positive results while keeping the lines of communication professional.
So, what do you think? Have you used or considered using Facebook with students? Which of these practices do you find useful? Are there challenges or concerns that are getting in the way of using Facebook with students?
Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997 and is the author of “Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning” and The Innovative Educator blog.