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What the Tech? Teachers and Facebook

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As teachers and students head back to school, most teachers are looking for ways to communicate with parents. Facebook is a good option but it can be awkward for teachers to let parents see everything they post. Facebook has a guide for educators on how to use the social network while maintaining their personal privacy.

Facebook's Guide for Teachers 

Many school systems have rules that teachers cannot become Facebook friends with their students and may also discourage them from accepting friend requests from parents. There are several ways teachers can use the social network to share assignments, announcements and encouragement with their class.

One way is for teachers to create a Facebook page for their class. Students and parents who 'like' the page will see only what is posted there rather than what the teacher posts on their personal Facebook profile. We found one excellent example from a Mr. Edelman. He doesn't give his first name or where he teaches. He advertises his page only to his students and parents. As a visitor I was only allowed to see posts made publicly, not the ones he only shares with 'the rest of the class'.

Mr. Edelman posts only things about his classes such as a reminder to study for an upcoming test, a math question to talk about later in class and asking volunteers from parents to chaperone a field trip.

He states on his page that he will not accept friend requests from students on his personal account and that if a student posts an un­wanted comment they'll be banned from the page and it will be "dealt with at school." I don't imagine that will ever be a problem for Mr. Edelman.

To set up a page for a class, teachers should fine any page on Facebook. A page that they 'like' for instance. On that page Facebook has a "create a page" link.

From there teachers can name their page and launch it. I suggest they use only their first or last name and send invitations to 'like' the page in the classroom rather than through Facebook.

The page is simple to update, much simpler than printing out notes to send home to parents. It is also a good idea for teachers to remind students and parents to "follow" the page so that updates will appear close to the top of their Facebook timeline.

Teachers can also start a Group. The problem I see with a Group is that invitations must be sent out from one personal Facebook profile to another and anyone can post to a group timeline. With a Facebook page only administrators can post updates and can easily control the comments.

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