Technology restrictions on teachers

Emily Jochimsen

With social media web sites such as Twitter and Facebook rising in popularity, some teachers are utilizing websites to help them inform students about events such as quizzes, upcoming projects, and tests. In response to this growing trend of social websites in the classroom, Leander is drafting rules about how teachers may use such websites and communicate with students.

The drafted rules dictate how teachers are to act online and what can and cannot be on their profile. This means that teachers must now have a separate Facebook account for their students to use apart from their personal account for friends and family. The rules state that teachers planning to use Facebook must use a professional Facebook page with completely open access for parent and students. No conversations may happen on this page via such tools as Facebook chat and, unless they fall under certain specifications, no familial relations may exist on this professional account. It would simply be a place where teachers post information about the classroom for all to see.

Texting has also been limited so that only teachers running an after school club or extracurricular activity may use texting. Teachers such as Melody McCormick, Latin teacher, have been using Facebook and many other means of communication to help her students better understand the material being taught and figure out where they are struggling.

“I don’t think that allowing students to get to know us as people is a bad idea,” McCormick said.

Some teachers choose to utilize media other than Facebook. Troy Inman, pre-calculus teacher, uses Twitter to update his students on upcoming information for his class.

“As long as there is no personal information and it’s done in a professional way, then it’s okay,” Inman said. 

 With so much information available today, teachers must use discretion when linking to things on the web. Another portion of the rules are dedicated to how teachers are responsible to what they link and send to their students.

“I use [links] as sources of information for my class. There’s even an Iliad spoof on Facebook that I link for my students,” McCormick said.

Some teachers feel that these rules are a good thing to rules in place dictating their behavior on what they post online. If such rules are broken then a variation of disciplinary actions may be taken on the teacher.

“I think they are good rules if teachers are using websites to help kids learn,” Inman said.

Other teachers, however, have qualms about these rules. With special regards towards the boundaries of communication online and the ban from texting leave some teachers feeling as though they are being limited in how they can help their students with their studies. 

“I can understand the need for such rules, but I have used these websites for years,” McCormick said. “I don’t want to stifle communication with my students. I try to help create open communication with my students.”

Teachers using these websites use them alongside the personal websites designated for them by the district. These websites have all the information that a student needs, including links to the classroom calendar, websites that could help students, and classroom assignments. Some students feel as though the uses of this along with social networking websites are redundant and unnecessary.

“I don’t like it because if people wanted information on their class then they should just go to their teacher’s websites for the information,” Hailey Rafferty, senior, said.

With access to teacher’s websites through the school some students are questioning why teachers would want to use these websites. On the other hand some students think that using websites such as Twitter would be a useful way of passing along information.

“I think they should [be able to use these sites],” Sarah Worth, senior, said. “It would be very helpful, as long as we can get the information conveniently.”

 There are many thoughts about how teachers should be able to contact students and when it’s appropriate to do so, but only time will tell whether or not these rules are going to be the new standard.