Facebook and School

Some of my students were recently remarking on how they rarely use our school’s online homework and assignment system known as eClass, a Hong Kong network run by Broard Learning. To be frank (as opposed to Franke), it’s an awful system.  It’s not user friendly, and it is visually disgusting. I understand the students’ dislike for it.

Sometimes though, you just need to grin and bear it. Many of my colleagues have been requesting a switch to something like wikis or blackboard for years. Unfortunately, due to the politics and complications that runs rampant in so many schools, I do not foresee this changing as soon as I’d like. EClass will reign for the time, and I will use it as my administrators have requested.

However, this does not mean that teachers have to stop there!  I’ve found other ways to reach my kids to make sure they stay in touch with their learning and assignments. I’ve recently set up a network of blogs with my students, and all the information they need can be found there. Even more recently, the students have requested I start a group on Facebook for a space to post assignments and seek help with homework. After a little thought, why not?!

I’ve often tried to keep school and my social life separate, which, in many ways, is a fairly healthy goal.  Some time ago, I made the decision to accept students as friends, but I keep them on a limited profile. I’m now at the point where I am friends with 60% of the students I currently teach. We were already keeping in touch via messages and the occasional chat, so why not take it a step further and create an extension from the classroom in the form of a Facebook Group? That’s what I did, and I’ll have to see where it goes. It’s called “Mr. Franke’s Bible Classes.”

So far the students have not only seen me post messages, but they’ve also posted their own messages, photos, and links. I think it has the potential to create even more learning beyond the classroom if done well. At the same time, I want to keep a slightly hands-off approach and let the students own it and make it their own. I’ll definitely be asking for their feedback throughout the upcoming days and weeks.

Is it dangerous to mix school and social life? Maybe. On the other hand, I feel like the mixing creates a transparency in my life and reminds me to behave in and out of school. It’s like a sort of accountability. And that is something we could all use a little more of in our lives!

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