So, I received a friend request and a message on facebook from a student in my cooperating teacher's class. He made a joking comment, and I realized that I should probably set my facebook to private.
But then I realized, as a teacher, I really would rather not. If I do, I want to have an alternate facebook account that is accessible to students, and create a fake name for my other one. Not that I ever have much to hide, but I'd still rather keep my work life and private life apart.
The idea of creating a facebook for students and school matters does appeal to me, though. If I want to forge a relationship with my students, I might as well do so on their terms. That doesn't mean I will necessarily spend any real amount of time on facebook with students, as that sounds like legal suicide. On the other hand, it seems like a possible content distribution platform- imagine, students checking their friend feed to see, "Hey 3rd period Bio, remember that the paper is due this Friday!" or "Hey 4th period math, remember how I mentioned that video on linear equations? Here's the youtube link."
I like that.
I've been thinking about content delivery systems and how to integrate that into education. I've seen a number of schools use class websites with student profiles and whatnot, but I really think they're doing it all wrong. If students aren't forced to use the online content, they won't. They won't willingly go to a school website on their own time when they've got facebook and youtube to compete. That's why I think instead of creating class websites with all the homework and assignments, integrating class content with facebook, or even google is the future. They already have a great way to connect people, and most of the students are already all over facebook, you already have that massive active audience.
Of course, many kids won't add "4th grade bio" as a friend, but a lot more would than would check the school based class website.
I clicked on the kid who messaged me, and looked through his friends list. I recognized quite a few of the kids there as students in the class, and began to realize what a great way to get content to students would be. It's also a good way to find out stuff about the students' lives and interests, and possibly even connect with parents. It's definitely something I want to look into when I become a teacher.
And not to say that it is flawless. There are a lot of potential problems. But right now, I think the potential benefits outweigh the potential problems. Although as it stands, my cooperating teacher doesn't do facebook, so I'm hesitant to start adding kids. But still, the fact that a student added me is... It's a compliment.