Social media in the classroom: Communication or complication?

With social media taking over just about everything, teachers across America are left in a pinch. Where do they draw the line between communication and complication?

An online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the University of Phoenix in April found that 83 percent of K-12 teachers use social media in their personal lives. However, only 35 percent use it professionally to communicate with colleagues, students and parents.

The poll responses included 1,005 U.S. residents employed full-time as teachers in grades K-12 who have at least an undergraduate degree.

Vista College Prep third grade teacher Angela Coleman said she will not connect with her students via social media. She thinks it blurs the lines.

“I want the relationship with everyone here at VCP to be professional,” said Coleman. “I’m not their peer. I want to be seen as their teacher. And I want to be seen as that role model rather than a friend in their life.”

Some of the students at Vista College Prep thought social media in the classroom would be beneficial to the learning environment.

Third-grader Sammy Walteroquist pointed out that his teachers could send out extra reminders to the students to complete homework assignments.

However, Fourth-grader Monica Castelo said she doesn’t think it would be necessary, and that she prefers face-to-face interactions.

“We can just chat to the teachers or our friends at school or anywhere else that we meet,” said Castelo.

Sam Shapiro, the school’s Manager of Special Projects, said the school’s current policy doesn’t allow teachers to become “friends” with students on any social platforms.

“I think in an academic setting, there’s existing platforms that can probably do that for a school better than Facebook can,” said Shapiro.

Shapiro said places such as Blackboard are better for students to communicate with their teachers since it’s a place where they can comment, share attachments, and stay professional.

He also said everyone is still trying to figure out what the best policy is—with social media taking over so fast.

“Until we can make a universal policy, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. So that’s where we are right now,” said Shapiro.