As more and more people spend time online and on social networks like Facebook, the private and the professional are continuing to collide. In response to this collision, institutions are establishing policies about how professionals should conduct them online. Most recently, the Ontario College of Teachers released a report over their concerns that teachers are establishing relationships with their students on social media sites like Facebook.
Even though Facebook has many privacy settings that enable you to group different people together and change your settings based on the group, the teachers association is concerned with how electronic messages will effect students' relationships to their teachers inside the classroom. Facebook messages and other online activity don't allow for people to communicate as clearly as in person, and this online communication can effect how students learn, the association argues.
At the same time, cyberbullying between students has become increasingly monitored by schools as online student relationships spur offline reactions that school officials must deal with. In some severe cases, students have been bullied so badly online that they have committed suicide -- increasing concern for school officials over social media activity. However, teachers participation in online discussions with their students are still seen as blurring the lines between professional and private and are in general still frowned upon.
However, students are incredibly tech savvy and young people use text messages and Facebook to communicate some of their most important social actions. This means that their is also a necessity for schools to find a way that they can use social media and teach their students how to act professionally online. Many schools are now starting to have Facebook pages and increasing online presences -- making it more important than ever that they also educate their students in the classroom about how to effectively and professionally use social media to manage their professional and personal online reputations.