Online Identity (and Teaching)

Today a student e-mailed me that she was confused by the university's new student portal, so she used Google to search for my senior-level writing course. Instead of locating the advanced technical writing course site, she stumbled into my personal pages and my business pages.

This is not much of a problem, since my personal pages deal with my freelance writing. Having a student read my CV isn't exactly an issue. It's not exciting reading.

But, what about when the student asks if you are on FaceBook or MySpace? Do you add the student? Does your department have a policy? Many high schools and K-12 districts have policies against chatting online with students or adding them to your social networks.

So far, I only have two former students on any social network. Former being the key, I suppose. But should I be open to using the communities to connect to students? WebVista is not something students want to use for announcements -- they just don't like the system.

I'm pretty open to the idea of adding students, as my department does not have a policy. My doctoral committee members did add me in FaceBook.


I think you should. Social Media is a new form of communication just like the telephone, the fax, and the e-mail. Adding them on a social network does not make you any more of a friend than if you communicate via e-mail.

The difference is that you have access to more information and so do your students however this information can be filtered accordingly. The only thing both party has to keep in mind is that by connecting through a social networking web site, you are responsible for what content you share.

Just like in real life we decide to filter certain information about our life, the same can be done online.

We no longer live in an online vs offline world. The online is now part of our world; it is an extension of our daily life. I understand that this is true for some more than others but as we progress forward and unless the Internet implodes in the future this will become a reality for everybody.

I thought this was relevant:

I think there is some healthy skepticism.

I just know when I start back lecturing in September, I have to compete with compulsive messaging in Bebo, etc. The admins used to try and block all the sites, but they can't keep up with all the IP spoofing and use of proxies to circumvent the filters. This year, they aren't even going to bother.