This topic is one of increasing importance in today’s society. One would believe that teachers in particular should know to maintain professionalism and refrain from developing inappropriate relationships with students in real life or online. Though, the digital era has led students and teachers to become more tech savvy, with more and more institutions advocating online interaction between the two parties.
Ann Michaelsen, a teacher at Sandvika High School, near Oslo, was invited to Bett – the education world’s biggest tech fair in London to share her ideas with other technologically minded teachers. Her aim is to create a ‘digitally rich’ environment where students continually post work online, develop their creativity skills and make ‘their own discoveries rather than being led by a teacher’ (Rice, 2014). The Quadblogging software is used and allows four schools to join up online, interact and comment on each other’s blogs.
However, more than one in 10 school teachers accused of misconduct last year had used social networking sites and email to forge inappropriate relationships with their pupils. (Vasagar and Williams, 2012). Apparently, internet chat logs and transcripts of of Facebook messages were used as evidence against the teachers; many of whom instructed students to keep the relationship secret.
Essentially, teachers need to educate themselves on how maintain their professionalism and be cautious about the way they use Facebook. Furthermore, all schools and firms should have a clear and defined social media policy regarding use at work, appropriate work related comments on personal accounts. They should:
- Be straight-forward and emphasize that employees must act responsibly, respectfully and transparently online, on and off the premises.
- Define penalties for non-compliance.
- Not be too strict so that students can benefit from digital access to teachers and further resources. Soon classes will be conducted online when schools are shut. e.g Heavy snow
- Recommend against teachers befriending students on Facebook
Firms and schools may also benefit from training and awareness programs that clearly disclose what constitutes moral behaviour online social media. More research is emerging from Australia where employers are trying to understand how to protect themselves, their brand and the reputation of the company and management.
It is important that we learn from these cases, but for now I believe Social Media policies are paramount in every organisation.
Rice, C. 2014. Social media transforms the textbook lesson. [online] 31 January. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25888737 [Accessed: 30 Mar 2014].
Mazzeo, F. 2012. Business & Ethics. [image online] Available at: http://www.eoi.es/blogs/francescomazzeo/2012/04/03/business-ethics-%E2%80%93-behind-a-code-of-conduct/ [Accessed: 30 Mar 2014].
Vasagar, J. and Williams, M. 2012. Teachers warned over befriending pupils on Facebook. [online] Monday 23 January. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/jan/23/teacher-misconduct-cases-facebook [Accessed: 30 Mar 2014]