Of late there has been more and more discussion of faculty members using Facebook.com in their teaching or simply as a vehicle for connecting with students. An article in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education by Sara Lipka raises a few interesting questions about this practice, including whether it is “creepy” (as one student put it) for faculty members to use this social networking site, whether using such a platform tears down even further the professional boundaries between students and their professors (for good or ill), or whether by meeting students where they are (for now), faculty members might actually increase their interactions with their students in positive ways?
This is a topic we have also discussed in several editions of Digital Campus and haven’t really come up with a good answer yet.
So, I thought I would ask my students what they think about the Chronicle article. So far, a couple have weighed in and their opinions generally contradict what the article argues–that students are creeped out by faculty members being in Facebook. One student of mine in a different class did say that she uses a fairly aggressive set of privacy settings and wouldn’t let a professor (or anyone else not a college student) see the pictures she posts.
If you want to know more on this subject, you can join Facebook and find the group on faculty ethics described in the Chronicle article. Since I started writing this post this morning, more than 50 more faculty members have joined–clearly a response to the article in the Chronicle.
I do think that this is a time limited discussion, however. Who do you know who still uses Friendster? Three years ago Friendster was the hottest thing in social networking. But it is so over. My guess is that Facebook has at least two more good years and then the young people who really drive its membership will migrate to the next cool space–where they feel they are removed from the prying eyes of creepy people like professors.