Should Teachers, Students Be Facebook Friends?

By Curtis, Aerin | Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY), April 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Should Teachers, Students Be Facebook Friends?


Curtis, Aerin, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY)


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At a glance

Using social media with students is a practice that some area teachers say can be useful. But others - and most administrators - say they should proceed with caution.

By Aerin Curtis

acurtis@wyomingnews.com

CHEYENNE - Teachers should use caution in speaking with students through social media platforms.

That's what administrators in both Laramie County school districts say.

Neither Laramie County School District 1 nor LCSD2 has a specific policy forbidding teachers from interacting with students through sites like Facebook. But neither encourages the practice, officials say.

"We would discourage teachers from being involved with students on Facebook or any of those (sites)," said Jeff Conine, principal of McCormick Junior High. "It's not outlawed, but it's discouraged."

There has been some recent national attention on the subject as social media blur the line between professional and personal interaction, officials said. Teachers in several states have gotten in trouble after posting comments more appropriate for friends than to students.

Several area school employees said the risks of social media are discussed not only in schools but in professional journals and by teachers' organizations.

"Educators and students just need to be really clear about what those professional lines are," said Matt Strannigan, principal of Cheyenne's Central High.

In LCSD2, a lack of Internet speed has kept such programs from being an option in the schools, Jack Cozort said. With an impending broadband upgrade, the subject will likely be readdressed, he added.

"As we change the format of learning in schools, there has to be a more open exchange," Cozort said. "But I don't think I'll ever invite teachers to use social media to connect with students."

Instead he said the teachers have email addresses students can use.

"Any other format (than email) is not an advisable activity," he said. …

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