Should I Use Social Networking Sites with My Class?
Many teachers are looking for a way to keep parents informed about classroom happenings and assignments and if their school does not provide a parent portal of some sort, a teacher may wonder if she or he could use one of the social networking sites for that purpose.
Problems with Using Social Networking Sites with Your Class
- It opens your personal life to your parents or students. Even a closed Facebook group requires you to register under your own name and to disclose at least part of your profile to other users. Once parents know that Ms. Smith is Suzy Smith, they may try to “friend” you and you will be in a position of having to decide which parents to “friend”, particularly if there are some you do want to friend. People who participate in closed groups with other people sometimes mistakenly post things in the wrong place and while most teachers no longer live under restrictive morals clauses, few want their private lives to be fodder for class parent discussions.
- It may be against school system policy. Before using any online platform with your class, make sure you are in compliance with any school or school system policies.
- Putting class information on Facebook may make parents who prefer to avoid Facebook use it. Some people don’t want to be on Facebook. They don’t want to create a profile or connect with other people. If you put class information on Facebook, those parents have to choose to do something they do not want to do, or else be left out.
Classloom: An Alternative to Facebook for Classroom Use
The main advantage of using Facebook or a similar site is that it is free. Also, the interface is familiar to most parents.Classloom allows teachers to set up closed groups for their classes. Since the site is used only for class communication, neither teachers nor parents have to open their personal lives to other members. Only those invited by the group owner to participate are able to see posts or comment on them.
Using Classloom is similar to using other social networking sites in that users have to register. Once a teacher registers, he or she can create a group for the class and invite parents to join. Since Classloom is not part of Facebook or any other open social network, no one has to give up his or her privacy to join, beyond acknowledging that they are a teacher or parent. The interface is similar to open social networking sites in that each person has a page that shows the posts associated with all groups of which he or she is a member. As with other networks, users can comment on posts.
On Classloom teachers can send private messages to a parent or may address the entire group. Other parents can see public comments and replies so if one parent has a question about an assignment, the whole class can see the response (and hopefully not ask the same question). Teachers or parents who attend an event at school can posts pictures for the whole class to see. There is a calendar so class/school activities, exams and project deadlines can be posted there.
Classloom offers many of the advantages of using public social media platforms but because it was designed to be used by schools, it avoids some of the pitfalls. Give it a try; create a sample group and see what you think. Classloom is offered to teachers at no charge.
You may also want to read more to learn “How Classloom improves parent communication”.
Classloom Blog Writer