Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Drawing the Line in Social Media: Twitter

The world of Twitter sometimes seem foreign and confusing to me.  Everyone seems to have made up their own language with crazy symbols and abbreviated words.  With this said, I am still addicted. I go on about three to five times a day to tweet and read up with everything going on.  After four months of having an account, I am still a little lost as to what I should be tweeting but I still tweet away.  Often I try to tweet about interesting things I read about educational technology or share a link to a great website I found, but more times than none, I am tweeting about what I am making for dinner, if I had a good work out, and responding to the witty things my friends say.  As much as I try to make my Twitter account professional, I often find myself becoming too personal.  

I say this because I truly believe Twitter should be used in the classroom as a tool of learning, but as teachers how do we draw a line between personal and professional in the Twitter world and other social medias?  With Facebook it is can be can put your students on a limited profile or simply ignore their friend request.  Even with Twitter you can keep your tweets private but that makes your influence on Twitter very small.  There is also the dread of people (meaning parents or administration) reading a tweet and taking it the wrong way, which can lead to termination of your job. So what to do?  The best thing is to keep your personal information separate from your professional like.  Create separate social media accounts that can be used in the classroom.  It does not mean you need to be completely guarded and not share anything about your personal life, but creating a separate account allows students, teachers, and parents that with this account you will mostly discuss things about school.  

There is also the question of how do we keep things professional with students who you are following on Twitter?  Students in middle and high school sometimes do not have a filter and say whatever comes to mind either it is about themselves personally or about other students.  It can be innocent at times and then not so innocent. Do we take these opportunity to speak to students about what they write on Twitter and make into a learning experience or do we get administration and parents involved?  With every situations, there will be different ways to handle what happens.  The best policy is to teach proper netiquette and how things written can be interpreted differently.  Teaching students be alert and smart when on the internet will provide them with the proper skills to navigate through social media.

So what do you think?  How should teachers draw the line between professional and personal in social media, especially in Twitter?  

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a great point to bring up. How much is too much? There have been cases of teachers being fired over the stupid things they have said on social networking sites. My policy, personally, is to not mention any names or really anything that happens at work on my personal site. I do think, though, that a classroom twitter is an excellent idea, but should be kept to just classroom information. Tweets about new science experiments, social studies projects, field trips, or homework reminders are all excellent ways to use twitter or facebook to keep parents updated with what their students are doing as well as keep the students on their toes as well. Once you merge your personal life with your teaching life you are going to encounter problems. I do my best to keep those separate, while still remaining human. No one wants a robot for a teacher! :)