Sunday, July 28, 2013

5 Best Practices to Consider When Using Facebook with Students

This post was original featured on Smartblogs on Education

Innovative educators realize that to run for office, run a business, or change the way things are run where you work or play, being savvy with the use of social media is important. Now you are ready to take the plunge with your students to help them change their lives and the world for the better. Before you get started, consult with your school or district to find out their guidelines and policies and keep these best practices in mind.


  1. Friending Some educators do not realize that you don’t need to friend your students to interact with them online. You can create a page or group that your students can like or join without being one another’s friend or seeing one another’s feeds.  Connecting with students via groups and pages only is a great practice for educators concerned about keeping the lines of professional and personal distinctly separated.
  2. Groups Private groups serve as a terrific platform for communicating and collaborating with students on school-specific work. It is not necessary for the world to see what students are doing as they are working on class projects. Groups provide a great closed setting for teachers and their students to share ideas, share work, and keep conversations going.
  3. Pages Pages are great places to publicly celebrate student  accomplishments, inform folks of upcoming events, and share schoolwide news. Here are three great examples of schools doing just that.  
  4. Community roles When using Facebook with students it’s a good idea to create roles. The roles may be held by staff, students, or a combination. You may want to assign roles in advance, assign them as student’s online personalities emerge, or allow students to apply for roles.
    • Co-moderator who can support you in your moderator roles and take them helm if you  are unable.
    • Nurturers who will greet new people and provide positive feedback.
    • Responders who have the urge to comment and make sure everyone’s posts and ideas and contributions are recognized.
    • Pushers who can deepen the dialogue with their probing questions
    • Sharers who are always finding a good outside resource to enrich a conversation.
    • Monitors who can alert you to any activity that may be of concern.
  5. Account type
Educators should consider having a strictly professional profile when communicating with students on Facebook. This avoids confusion of privacy settings. It will also help keep the lines of personal and professional clear. Additionally, once a personal account is used for professional purposes, it could be considered professional. This becomes a problem should an issue come up with a student that results in a request to obtain access to the account on which you communicated.

Pioneering educators who have chosen to use Facebook with students have realized terrific rewards including greater learner engagement, deeper conversations, improvement in literacy, and greater participation than traditional classroom platforms.  With these practices in mind educators can realize positive results while keeping the lines of communication professional.

So, what do you think? Have you used or considered using Facebook with your students?   Which of these practices do you think or have you experienced as being, useful? Are there other challenges or concerns that are getting in the way of using Facebook with students? If so, what are they?

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997 and is the author of “Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning” and The Innovative Educator blog.
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