On March 29th the Alberta Teachers Association posted on their Facebook Fan Site a link to an article titled “Warning for Teachers: Facebook Could Kill Career.” At first I thought it ironic that they used their Facebook presence to share the article, but a good point was brought up by the ATA – what better place to warn teachers of the dangers of Facebook than on Facebook. Fair enough. The medium is perfect for the target audience. Its actually a pretty good article and doesn’t live up to the dire statement made by the title. The case study ends with the accused teacher being exonerated and the article finishes with a teacher who uses Facebook saying the dangers are exagerated and the best advice is to use common sense.
The problem with common sense is that it isn’t all that common, especially when it comes to social media in education. Unfortunately, a story about a teacher getting in trouble on Facebook attracts more readers than a teacher who successfully used it to connect and educate students. As a result, what we think is “common” is not the reality for the majority of teachers on Facebook. I think it is important that, as professionals, we take time to read the success stories and forge professional boundaries in online environments. I understand the need for warnings and exposing the dangers, but when will we hear endorsements for the positive use of social media?
Here are a few good articles I have found that support the responsible/professional use of Facebook: