Really?! It is my friend.
On October 5, I posted a poll asking everyone on my Facebook account (I even made the poll public) asking the question “should teachers be friends with their students on Facebook?”
I’ve so far had 38 replies, with people even writing their own choices to vote for.
One of these says “you can really get advantage of it and use it as another tool for your teaching” – this one is the clear leader with 20 votes so far.
Why? If Facebook is often portrayed as an invasive waste of time, where people you don’t know can find out all kinds of personal information, why would this seem like a good idea, especially for a teacher who presumably wants some disconnect between work and social life?
Well, I for one agree with the majority voters. Teaching seems to be moving ever further away from the “banking method” of education, whereby students are merely receptacles for information and where the knowledge is locked away in the magic coursebook.
These days, teachers seem to be more like counselors for their learners, being interested and involved in what Scott Thornbury calls the “inner life of the student”. So why not use Facebook to develop this connection?
There are currently over 800 million active users of Facebook in over 200 countries. Apart from the local students that I have on Facebook, there are hundreds worldwide who have “friended” me and have asked me questions related to ELT.
I love this. I love the feeling that I can interact with all these people and further what I do on a larger scale.
Self-congratulatory? Maybe, but the point is made: students are people – people have lives – Facebook facilitates new global connections like nothing else has ever done. So let’s take advantage of this, right?
One-to-one interaction with my students will always be paramount, but using social media as a means to answer questions, help them with homework, remind them of deadlines, is immediate in a way that even email can’t match. This is because it’s a place where we all socialise and further our professional lives – it’s not a gimmick, it’s part of life now. Let’s use it.
Or should we? Are we dissolving the boundaries that should arguably exist between students and their teachers?
What do you think?