I started the day with a wonderful conversation with my MS administrator, talking about the possibility of getting a Facebook account to use as a teaching tool. The past policy has been that teachers may not connect with students on FB. I totally agree with this policy for my personal account. I have no desire for my students to know about my personal life, but as an educator who is committed to introducing my classes to the tools of the Web, I feel a responsibility to teach them how to protect themselves out there. My administrator understood. Three cheers for her! She said that in the past, it was forbidden, but that the world is changing, and we need to meet the needs of the students. I told her she would be my first, and perhaps last, friend on that account.
I set it up and went before the 8th grade. I pulled up my new homepage on Facebook on the SmartBoard. They immediately recognized the photo, as it is the one that I use on ning and edmodo, etc. with them. Then they realized that it was Facebook. I wish I could have taken a picture of their faces. The shock and awe! A definitely successful military strategy to get their attention. I explained my initial mission, which was to teach them how to change the various privacy settings on the FB pages. Only one of them even knew that they were there. I went through each one, describing why they would only want their friends to see their information. I talked about how they had a responsibility that in the past didn’t come to someone until they were an adult, but that with the internet, they were out in the adult world and needed to know how to take care of themselves and their information.
I asked them if they had ever seen a picture of themselves or someone else on FB that was embarrassing, told them not to raise their hands. They all smiled. Then I told them that even if that photo was taken down, it still exists at Facebook, that what goes up there is officially out of their hands and belongs to Facebook. They can protect it there, but they need to act. “Not creature was stirring, not even a mouse!”
I ended by telling them that if they wanted to Friend me, they could. I am not expecting it, but it may provide a possible avenue for a child who is being bullied to protect herself. We hear about that going on a lot, and I am hoping to provide an escape.
I think that there may well be other ways to use the account for school, but right now, it is where I can show them ways to be responsible and engage with them where they love to be.