Academic Facebook: An Experiment in Student / Tutor Relationships

Came across a rather interesting blog article from EduSpaces user AWyatt called “Academic Facebook: Lessons learned so far“. AWyatt has been using Facebook to talk to students outside of the class and offers some interesting insights upon it’s use:

Things I have done that I thought were positive:

  • Have messaged conversations about issues that matter, but that were too personal for a class discussion
  • Send messages of encouragement
  • Send application presents (jack o lanterns, gingerbread men, christmas tree presents) just for fun?
  • Check status changes.? Sometimes I can follow up on a student’s well being the next time I see them, on the sidewalk, in my office, or before class starts.
  • Use the messaging feature for my class groups to announce things like changed due dates (which are also announced through the usual channels)
  • Participate in student run groups as a contributing member
  • Find out things about who my students are and what they are concerned with that make me see them so much differently.? I have always been bemused by students who, even at the end of the semester, did not know my name (and I generally teach small classes with a lot of interaction!).? I can see how professors would really not know much more about a student than what they look like, how they write, and where they sit!? I was never satisfied with that, because it meant that I had never made a real connection with the person AS a person.? Facebook gives me many more cognitive “hooks” to use in making our relationship better and to help me tailor my teaching methods.

and misuse:

I decided that, if my students were gracious enough to be friends with me, I probably should not:

  • leave a message on their wall asking why they were not in class or where an assignment was
  • send them any apps without checking them first (sometimes the adverts at the end turn out to be something I would not like to endorse personally)
  • be judgmental about any activities, even if I initially find some of the posts/photos to be surprising