Facebook, professors, and students

Alex Reid, Canadian Journal of Education, Nov 14, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Should teachers or professors complain about their students on Facebook? Alex Reid narrows down the debate to three basic positions:

  • abstinence: faculty shouldn’t remark about their students
  • positive-only: faculty should only say nice things about their students
  • in private: faculty who complain should severely limit access to those posts

Of these, the third is a self-contradiction: there are no private posts on Facebook (only people who have been deluded into thinking Facebook posts are private). This actually applies to the internet generally. To me, in the end, it boilds down to: if you wouldn't say the thing in front of the entire school assembly (and their parents, and everyone else) you shouldn't say it on Facebook. Which means, essentially, that complaints about students should be addressed in person, directly, to the student. If you can't do this, you don't really have a complaint.

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