Posts Tagged ‘Teacher and Student Communication’

College is supposed to prepare you for your career and to lead a productive work life. In what ways do you feel most prepared for this challenge? In what ways do you feel least prepared?


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As we college professors welcome incoming  freshmen,  the class of 2014, it is nice to have the Beloit College Mindset List to guide us.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has compiled the Mindset List, which provides cultural information that shapes the lives of the year’s incoming college freshmen. According to Beloit, the Mindset List “was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.”

Dated references? Does this assume that the typical college professor could ever be out of date? Evidently so, for there are 75 items listed by Beloit to keep us from making generational gaffs.

For example, Item # 1: few in the class know how to write in cursive. Do you mean to tell me that this group has keystroked every word it has ever written? I guess the handwritten thank you note is officially dead. Why write a note by hand  that has to be put into the “always going broke post office” (Item # 69) with a stamp when you can email a quick ” thanks”?

And just when we are universally celebrating the tech-savviness of Millennial Generation students, the Mindset List says in Item # 2 that incoming freshmen view email as just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail. Yep, the handwritten thank you note is in fact dead, perhaps replaced by the texted “thx”.

For Mass Communication professors like me, Item # 26 really hurts: Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides. Ouch! And, Item #44: the dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

Being a Vietnam Era veteran, Item # 41 really hits home: American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

And of course, music figures prominently on the list. Item # 46: Nirvana is on the classic oldies station. Say it isn’t so!!!

One last item for the gearheads out there; Item # 75 says Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

Tempus sure does fugit.

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A school district in southern Mississippi recently enacted a policy prohibiting teachers from communicating with students via social networks like MySpace and Facebook.

The Lamar County School Board said the policy was approved because of concerns that casual contact between teachers and students via these sites would be unprofessional.

I am curious what you think.  Is the Mississippi policy on target or misguided? I am asking because I communicate with some of my students via Facebook.

First, some background: A couple of years ago, Towson’s PR Group, comprised of PRSSA and IABC student members, began publicizing meetings on Facebook. I serve as Faculty Adviser for the Group. Being a Facebook novice at the time, I set up a simple, basic page so I could receive the messages. Mine was completely devoid of photos, personal information, etc.

I left the page like that for months. Then one of my students jumped me: “Potter!” she chided, “Why don’t you put some information on your Facebook page? It sucks!”

I confided that I didn’t know how. Truth is, at the time, I didn’t know whether or not it was appropriate for a Baby Boomer professor like me to be on Facebook. Like many other Boomers, I arrived late to the social media party. But I am a quick learner. I am learning by doing, by being personally active in blogging, Facebook, and other forms of social media.

After the chiding from my student, I started playing around with Facebook and quickly was hooked. Over time, more and more people invited me to be Facebook Friends, including current and former students. I am always respectful of people’s privacy, images, and information, especially students. I only use Facebook in ways that are tasteful and respectful.

What we post on Facebook has the potential to be detrimental to personal image and to employment prospects. I never preach or scold anyone about what he or she includes in Facebook. Instead, I try to set an example of how I believe Facebook can be used in a responsible, creative manner.

But the Mississippi policy issue has me thinking. Is it inappropriate for teachers and students to communicate via Facebook or MySpace? From my own experience, I conclude that it is acceptable for me to communicate with students as long as certain conditions are met:

  • That communication is honorable, appropriate, respectful, and in good taste.
  • That communication has some educational value.
  • That communication is age-appropriate.
  • That communication does not get too personal so as to make either the sender or receiver feel uncomfortable.
  • That communication does not invade a person’s privacy.
  • That the communication in Facebook stays in Facebook.

What say you, More With Les learning community?

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