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Using Facebook as a student communication platform

"The positive outcome for me was having an effective, safe and real time communication and information transfer platform"

Carl Gibbons

Using social media

I have used Facebook as a student communication platform for my year 13 PE group. I use our SLS extensively (ultranet) but this particular group voted that we use Facebook as in their words “We are always on Facebook”.  Originally I created a page, however in the mid-year review they weren’t happy with that as they didn’t seem to be receiving notifications when I posted. I created a class identity and they friended me.  I use it to post photos of board work, (mindmaps and the like) and linking YouTube videos of me teaching key portions of the course so they can review it at their own pace. I also link through Facebook to livebinders for relevant resources. I also use it for homework reminders and assignment deadline reminders.  Student review is positive.

Ethical issues

Being friended by them means that I am privy to their posts. This potentially gives me the opportunity to trawl through their private life. I do not and will not ever read their private posts (which at times is difficult to do given the nature of the site).  However there has been one example that highlights how ethical, professional and personal boundaries can be tested.  A student boasted via a post that he was starting an assignment the night before the due date that he should have been doing over the preceeding 6 weeks.  He failed to hand in the assignment and requested an extension. He failed in application for extension without consideration of the wall post (other evidence spoke for itself) as I didn’t feel ethically and professionally comfortable using the information.

This highlighted the fact that there needs to be lots of reinforcement and discussion with the students around privacy considerations and the implications for a professional online relationship with a teacher. Likewise, if you want the platform to be successful you must not impinge on any conversations that are not direct professional conversations with you.  However a good ethical and professional question is what is the course of action if we do see anything that may be detrimental to a student’s health or another student’s health/safety?

Addressing ethical issues

I worked through ethical issues by having direct, frank conversations around privacy issues and user responsibility.  The positive outcome for me was having an effective, safe and real time communication and information transfer platform.

Things that worked really well included having regular professional discussions via posts/comments etc. that have lead students to helping each other and networking; engaging in respectful, professional dialogue with my students; having the opportunity to role model good digital citizen behaviour.  Using this platform has removed another layer of excuses regarding late work, homework etc. as it is an idea that they initiated, I can remind them and scaffold them appropriately.

Other PE Students from other schools have requested to be friends. I have not accepted as I do not know these individuals and will only accept our students at this point. I have not fully developed a policy on this yet.  Could be an opportunity of developing a student professional network?

Social media type

  • Learners

    Teachers have a professional obligation to develop and maintain professional relationships with learners based on the best interests of those learners.

  • Parents/Guardians and Family/Whānau

    Social media provides a great opportunity to collaborate and communicate with parents and whānau.

  • Society

    Teachers who model good social media use will grow learners who apply positive, respectful values in their interactions on social media platforms.

  • The Profession

    As a member of the profession you should seek and respond to opportunities to share knowledge and discuss concerns.