Social networking’s been on my mind this week as I’ve finally got my blog up and running, discussed Edmodo at the Glasgow Science Festival and had one of those “watch what you’re doing online” talks from the EIS in the final week of my PGDE. Then of course there was Martha!
The council’s response(s) seems to me to sum up the ambivalence and apprehension surrounding the use of social networking in schools. I learned on Tuesday for example that the “educational Facebook”, Edmodo is able to be accessed in some authorities but not others. There’s a culture of fear surrounding these websites at the moment and we’re only starting out with this stuff. If we think that digital communication is becoming a big part of living now, let’s see where we are in 10 years. Would anyone bet against the next “Martha” being an articulate young person who decides to review the lessons they’re being taught? That will test the mettle.
What about the advice given to teachers regarding their online presence? The prevailing view appears to be “hide”. I wonder if this is sustainable? We’re moving into a time when a person’s online persona, in terms of identity, relationships and even employability, is going to be as important as their real self. From the teacher huckled for complaining about his HT to the celebrity receiving hatemail for being sexist, the whole of society is grappling with that just now.
Could it be that, in a few years’ time, the advice given to teachers is completely turned on its head? Maybe we’ll enter a period where the authorities encourage teachers to be more visible online; traditionally teachers are called on to be role models in the way that they conduct themselves in and out of the classroom. Online role models too?
Teachers have always told students bit and pieces about their lives, and everyone’s had one who told you a bit more than you needed to know or bored you with their holiday photos. What is going to be shared online is going to take that to another level, and there will be people who go too far. It’s not going to go away though.
Perhaps the guidance given to the PGDE class of 2016 will be “don’t post everything about your life, post bits and pieces, don’t actively make connections with students, but you have some autonomy, be there if you wish to be and be professional.” More and more of life is going to be played out online. A point will be reached where the educational authorities will have to ask themselves: “Do teachers close up their lives online and leave their students to it or do they help show them the way?”