I’m always aware of what I put online, I think it’s important to cultivate an online identity, with caution as to what I say and do online. I’ve just started a new year in my school and I’m teaching E-safety to my students in all year groups. In our school we teach E-safety in 3 main ways:
- data online to year 7
- online perceptions in year 8
- and the risks of viruses etc. in year 9.
Because of this (and I’m planning on a Sunday morning!) I’ve started to think about the curse of online social media, how others perceive your online presence and that worry’s me sometimes, the curse of what others think of you! (and should I really care?)
I guess this is brought to light by the recent stories of students who have committed suicide from cyber bullying attacks (not that I’m that way inclined) or a number of cases where teachers have been up into harms way and lost their careers by things they have put online, I really try to be careful about what I say (anything you put online can be mis-interpreted or used against you in a court of law ;o)
Like most people (of course) I want to be liked for what i do. I want students to think i teach good lessons, I want teachers to think I make good resources and of course you can’t please everyone, but what happens when students or teachers critisise you online for something you teach or how their GCSE’s have gone or that someone doesn’t like something you have made or put online?
In the future, I think about job interviews and applying for promotion. In industry, hiring people is increasingly dominated by going online to see what an online presence is like (working in an IT industry, you need to make sure staff have a good online presence to make sure your company is well represented).
In job interviews for schools there is this idea of a pupil panel, where students from the school council interview you for the job and feedback to the head. Our students are increasingly aware of how to use social media and commenting on teachers, schools etc online, but do not discriminate about the information they put openly online (try typing the name of your school into twitter sometime and see what people say!)
Is it a bad thing?
How long will it be before a job interview will be assessed not just by the job you do and the lesson you teach, but the perception of people on social media? and is this a bad thing?
As mentioned, in industry it would be common practice in industry to cultivate an online persona with a LinkedIn profile and a website and a blog, which is largely (not wholly, I know most people who read this will have blogs etc.) ignored by the teaching community. Maybe students would benefit from teachers working online and seeing how to be online but in a safe, controlled and positive manner rather than avoiding the curse of online like some plague that threatens to wipe out your teaching career?
Disclaimer: please let me know if you think any of this is inflammatory as i wouldn’t want my perception to be harmed by this post!
Image from sxc.hu (copyright free image site)
This is a constant debate i have with myself, and it’s an argument that has gone on for a long time with various teachers that i work with and who i collaborate with on twitter. I do see Facebook as one of those things i love to hate and as an ICT Teacher think it is important that I use it, if only for 1 reason, the students use it, so why do i think it’s important i do? Before i start this, I’m not an addict, I’ll log onto Facebook when working maybe once a week (may even be 2 when I’m really busy) I scan it quick then leave. But i have a hard time justifying my presence there, knowing that i am not their consumer I am their product.
The case for staying
I think it’s important to identify with the networks students currently use, this helps me identify with how they work and communicate as well as showing me things that have changed from an e-safety point of view. I frequently end my lessons with the phrase “Facebook privacy policies have changed, so check yours tonight” as I think students identify with the issue of esafety far more on facebook than they do on other social networks like Twitter.
I also think on of the more successful schemes of work i have come up with in recent years was the “Facebook database unit” as it provides masses of scope for differentiation, extension etc. and could i really identify with it as much if i wasn’t a member and how could i promote an active approach to e-safety online if i didn’t have the information there?
The case for going
Ohh Facebook, how do i loathe thee. I look at Facebook(FB) sometimes with the amount of inane gibber on there and think “why am I part of this?”. I’m not a man of 1000’s of friends, i have barely 100, and most of these are relations of old uni friends, but i still look at it sometimes and think, what is the point of the stuff people put on there? I also hate that it becomes my “boredom zone” if I’m sat in front of the telly and it’s something that i don’t want to watch, i switch off and end up drifting onto FB and surfing pictures of stuff, and i truly hate myself for that, the Facebook stalking people do.
I also hate the games (The kind where you have to log in every day to click your imaginary fields to make sure your crops grow, what an endless waste of time!) I love gaming, i really do, but at least with my Xbox, i can choose when to play and am not penalised because I forgot that my blueberries expired today at 4:23pm!
The conscious decision
In spite of all this, i have found one positive outlook for Facebook the ICT Teachers group. If i have a question i want to ask for work and i can’t do it in my 140 Twitter characters, this is certainly a positive thing to use. I guess it boils down to all web technologies, its no good unless you are using it for a positive purpose.
So, in conclusion, my Facebook profile is being slimmed down, My friends down to just the people i have talked to in the last year(or close family), I’m willing to go through the slow procedure of withdrawal, but I’m not quite willing to go cold turkey just yet.