Different countries and different education departments within those countries have social media policies which generally limit the ways in which teachers can use twitter and Facebook with their students. In the previous post I covered the arguments for and against those policies and showed you how to use twitter in the classroom without compromising your professional relationship with your students by following them or allowing them to follow you.
Similarly on Facebook teachers are generally either forbidden outright from becoming friends with their students or strongly warned against doing so. Because of this some teachers have looked to other programs such as Edmodo which gives them a similar result without it being blocked by the department. However, you can still use Facebook to connect with your students and engage them in your lessons without compromising your professional relationship with them.
The way to do this is to create a Facebook page. When you create a Facebook page others can ‘like the page’. This allows them to see and comment on the posts, but doesn’t allow you or the student to see any personal information (provided they have the correct security settings activated on their Facebook profile). There are no limits to how many pages you can create so I would suggest creating a new page for each class.
How to create a Facebook page:
Firstly log into your Facebook account
Next type ‘create’ in the search bar at the top of your page. A list of results will appear with create a new Facebook page at the top. Click on the link
Next I suggest you click on the company option
Next you need to select education from the drop down menu and give your fan page a name (see below) – make it something descriptive and relevant to your group. If you have a class that rolls over each year then you might want to label it in such a way that the name is relevant over consecutive years. for example, if you teach year 9 science you wouldn’t want to call it year 9 science because you would have trouble the following year with your next year 9 science class. You can get around this by deleting your fan page at the end of each year and starting from scratch but I think it is a shame to lose all your students hard work.
Once you have done this your page is set up and ready to go. There are a lot of settings you can change but none of them are essential. Having said that I would suggest that you have a look at the following 2 settings. Click on the edit page button at the top of the page.
Firstly you can choose if your students can post to the wall with either text, photos, and video (I would suggest you allow this). The second setting blocks profanity. I always set this to strong.
As well as the above you can set the page photo, insert descriptions etc. I usually delegate this out to the class to set up and maintain. After you have set up your account you will see that you have a unique URL (website link) just simply pass that link on to your students or they can search for your page in the search box.
Once your page is set up and your students have found the page they need to ‘like’ the page so that all the status updates appear on their personal walls. As well as this on the left hand side they have the option to subscribe to any changes on the page either via RSS or SMS.
So just to recap. You don’t need to be friends with your students. You can just create a Facebook page that they like. All your communication with the students is in an open forum. Once the page is set up you can post articles and photos, share website links, link to videos and have your students comment and discuss amongst each other.