A Milwaukee-area school district has enacted a policy banning communication between school staff and students on social networking Web sites and instant messaging services.
According to this report, the school board seems to be concerned over the fact they can’t provide “adequate oversight” for these communication methods. Since communication between school staff and students are generally considered to be public records and are subject to public inspection, the district apparently wants faculty to only use district-sponsored applications/devices, which presumably provide better archiving and auditing of communciations.
Missing from the article, and perhaps the overall debate, is the question of whether faculty and students should be “friends” on social networks in the first place, regardless of the security & auditability of the communication. Does “friending” change the traditional teacher-student relationship? Should teachers have access to personal details, photos, news feeds, etc that come with “friending” on Facebook? Should a student have access to a teacher’s profile?
I’m hoping to start a project on the ethics of faculty-student relationships on social networking sites, and welcome any comments.