Make students your fans!

facebookTeachers face a dilemma with Facebook. Do you or don’t you become fans with students past and present? It’s a topic that has come up in some of my sessions and a discussion that we’re having here at our school at the moment. But, I think I’ve found the answer to having your private Facebook stay private with your friends and family and also allow students to connect to you in the most popular social-networking site to date.

The solution: Start a fan page

It’s rather easy to do and it allows students to still feel connected to you, their favorite teacher ;), without you having to give up your privacy or be worried about what they might write or say that could end up on your wall. With a Fan Page you can set the privacy settings so that fans can’t post to your wall if you wish. I personally don’t have an issue with it so have left that open, but you can close that option if you like. Fan pages also allow you to embed different widgets, not all the same widgets work on fan pages but you can embed your RSS feed and some other cool things to make your page…well….you. You can see here (if you have a Facebook account) how I have set my fan page up.

When students find me in Facebook and send an invite to be my “friend” I simply send them a message back that reads something like this:

I’m so glad you want to connect with me. I’ve decided to keep my Facebook profile private with my close friends and family. But I would like to stay connected to you. So if you would like to join my fan page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeff-Utecht/75623012224 we can stay in touch.

Thanks!

Jeff

…and then delete the invitation.

I also things this helps to teach students that you don’t have to become “friends” with everyone but that there are ways to stay private and it’s OK to be private on the Internet. Again, the only way we’re going to be able to teach students to be responsibly on the Internet is for us as educators to set a good example!