Thursday, December 16, 2010

Debate: Choices, Responsibilities, Friendships: Should My Teacher Be My Facebook Friend? Part II

On the side arguing against Social Media friendships between students and teachers, Dr. Kathleen Guillaume confessed that it would be difficult to argue against the utility of social media technology itself, but that private relationships preclude the relationship between students and teachers. So, for instance, in the early days of the landed telephone line, it would be considered 'improper' to have a telephone conversation with a student in the evening, during personal time.

However, legislation regarding this issue has not yet been introduced - and in Dr. Kathleen's opinion, students and teachers will both have to continue to 'police' themselves as far as social media relationships are concerned.

Dr. Kathleen quoted Confucius in closing, to illustrate the importance of participation in learning about technology:

"Tell me, and I will forget
Show me, and I may remember
Involve me, and I will understand"

Two students (Hebah Al-Omari and Farah Malla) continued the debate against the motion, pointing out that all information is at some point recorded, and that students who are perhaps less aware of the consequences of some of their online actions than older adults, may land in trouble as a result.

Questions from the audience focused on the problems associated with the online personas and 'digital shadows' created/left behind by people many years ago that still continue to be associated with them now. Graham Attwell argued that it is the job of academics to develop and share knowledge, and therefore rather than shying away from knowledge production, or perhaps privatising it, we should be working towards opening it up through online sharing.

Another comment from the audience was regarding the benefits that friendships between students and teachers provide to students in terms of mentorship. A member of the audience commented that his friendship with his student impacted the student's life greatly, and that this kind of interaction should be encouraged. The panel responded in various ways: one comment was that there are all kinds of teachers, and the ethical or unethical behaviour of teachers needs to be kept in mind by students by them developing critical thinking skills.


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