Status Update: Don’t Friend Your Professor

As technology trends continue to grow, I am finding that more and more of my professors are turning to social media to better their relationships with students. Our psychology club has a Facebook page where they post the latest events, how fundraisers went, and welcome new members. Professors are requesting that instead of emailing them through the school, we Facebook them instead. Our school has a Twitter page that lets students know about upcoming events, school closings, school sports scores, and other bits of information about what’s going on around campus.

While I do enjoy the ease of getting a hold of my professors nowadays, some students have run into issues. Some professors get too comfortable with their role as a “Facebook friend,” and start to act more like a pal than an authoritative figure. Other professors vent on their Facebook pages about students failing tests, showing up late for class, or asking “stupid questions” in class.

The problem? A lot of students know each other, have the same classes, and know exactly who and what the professor is talking about. It can be very awkward and downright unprofessional. It can even cause the student in question to not want to attend class because they know not only that the professor has some bad feelings about them, but that everyone else knows about it.

While students do need to take responsibility for their own actions, professors need to act maturely and realize that their version of the college days should consist of teaching and mentoring students, not hanging out on Facebook during class and perusing pictures.

One professor in particular went onto his Facebook to vent about how a student failed a test because he was caught texting. The student rescheduled but didn’t show, this time because he “overslept.” Rather than just give the student an “F” or discuss it in private, the professor took to his Facebook to complain, which was immediately commented on by scores of other students. The student who missed the test accepted a “0” and did not communicate with the professor again inside or outside of class the rest of the semester.

While I do think some social media in the classroom is acceptable, on the college level there are too few guidelines to protect the professors and the students. We don’t necessarily need protection from social media, but from ourselves.

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