Social Networking: The Good, the Bad and the Funky
WEB SITES LIKE FACEBOOK and MySpace are brand new animals In the realm of teaching and learning. It hasn't taken long, though, for educators to start using the sites to swap ideas and put resources to work In the classroom. Before the 2008 elections, some teachers even converted their spaces into beehives of political action.
Likewise, a handful of people have built pages as tributes to their most influential teachers pages that testify to the power of challenging subjects welltaught. AFT member Leslie Boyadjian belongs to two groups on Facebook dedicated to individual teachers.
"One group honors a college professor of mine, and the other honors an incredible high school history teacher of mine, Joyce Briscoe," says Boyadjian, a high school teacher and member of the Albuquerque (N.M.) Teachers Federation. "She was one of the reasons I became a teacher myself, and she was definitely the reason I majored in history. Simply looking at the page devoted to her shows that many students loved and respected her and were changed because of her."
Just being "social," though, doesn't mean these networks are only about socializing. Some teachers use them to help students practice writing or to learn about current events. But along with the good that social networking does, its widespread popularity also has created a new generation of problems and potential liabilities for educators, especially when coupled with the ease of posting videos and other media.
Teachers may be at risk
Sometimes, educators (like everybody on the Web) can be their own worst enemies, posting edgy material that could compromise them and jeopardize their jobs, especially because educators carry the special responsibility of working with children. Other times, teachers may be targets of false information posted about them.
Despite free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, online indecency attributed to school employees would fall, as a rule, under school district guidelines banning inappropriate behavior both inside and outside school. Courts have ruled that schools can regulate off -campus speech by teachers if that speech can be shown to have an adverse impact on campus. Teachers in Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts and Tennessee have been dismissed or suspended because of content posted on their social networking sites.
Teachers also may be held responsible for content posted about them, including accusations of unfairness or unseemly photos, on other sites.
Minimizing your risk
One way to prevent problems in social networking is simply not to have your own page. If you do have one, take steps to ensure that your …
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Publication information: Article title: Social Networking: The Good, the Bad and the Funky. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: American Teacher. Volume: 94. Issue: 1 Publication date: September 2009. Page number: 4. © American Federation of Teachers Feb 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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