Captain Heck (capthek) wrote in gradschool_hell,
Captain Heck

Strange question for you...

I teach an online class every semester. I give students a little extra credit if they create an online website of somekind. This can include myspace, friendster, or even livejournal. My question is this, although I would never tell them about my livejournal account because what I write is way too personal, the friendster and myspace sites are much more general and just a place where I have networked with some of my long distance friends, just a couple here and there. I have had students request to be friended or joined or whatever its called. At first I just kind of ignored these requests, but now I get lots of them and I really need to make my mind up.

I don't see a big problem with it, but I hear those websites are kind of a meat market and I don't want a failing student to cyberstalk me or some strange thing. Is my worry overblown? What do you think about this? Have you done it? is it a bad idea?
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I taught high school for a couple years before going to grad school and I have some of my former students as friends on facebook. I don't think it's a problem because they are no longer my students, but I don't think I would accept friend requests from current students.

(On the other hand, I just added my thesis advisor as a friend on facebook, but I guess that's different because I'm in grad school? I know some staff from my undergraduate institution who are on facebook, but they kind of use it as part of their job--in campus ministry. The only professor there I know who's on facebook--and one of my friends now on facebook--has a facebook account unconnected with his school email address so people wouldn't necessarily be able to find him.)
When I was in undergrad (mere months ago) I had a couple of professors add me as friends on Facebook, and that was while I was still in some of their classes. It was funny because I would get totally random questions about my profile on there, like professor asked if I was really Dutch because I listed Amsterdam (where I studied abroad) as my 'hometown' as a joke with my study abroad friends.
my standing policy is not to "friend" current students, but to accept all other requests from real humans I know, students or not. so far, no bad effects. not that many of my students request friending (3-5/semester) although I've only had accounts for the past two semesters, when I've been teaching 25 or fewer students.

I like to see where some of my former students have ended up. Sometimes it annoys me when former students with their constant friend-adding and photo-adding and wall-commenting dominate my news digest. In other words, nothing apocalyptic, but not much gained either.

My livejournal, on the other hand, is specifically barred from students, current and former. My lj is a place for me to vent about teaching and grad school, and it's friends-only. I'm friends with some professors on facebook, and generally feel like academia is way more flexible about these sorts of things than the corporate world.

But I don't know what I'd do if ther were a chance one of my students could enroll in another of my classes...

Maybe you could make a professional account ? Personally I would try to not mix both. But... there is one of my B.A. teachers on facebook and he has me and a couple of grad students of his department in his friend's list ( plus his friends and family)... He never had a problem, yet, I guess.
I add students after the semester is over. Haven't had a problem with that yet, but I'd say it's best not to add them before semester's end.
I figure that my facebook is my real name, so there's no way to stop them finding it if they go looking. I will add them if they go looking. But then, there's really quite little on my facebook that you couldn't learn about me in a five minute conversation, and nothing I wouldn't outright tell a student or an administrator.
(Just as an aside, you should always make sure that any internet-accessible information about you, facebook and myspace included, is something that you wouldn't mind your boss reading. Increasingly, they are. /internet privacy rant)
My eljay, though, is student-free. It's not linked to my real name, and they'd have to know me much better than a current student ever will to find it.
agreement here as well as a reminder that even accounts marked private are easily accessed by many HR people as these aren't hard for the computer department to get into.

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Good story. I am fortunate because both of my accounts are extremely basic with little content, controversial or otherwise.
I teach online too, but it was ironically my real-world students that tracked me down and friended me. Like many folks above, I don't friend current students and if they ask me point blank if I got the request, I claimed I haven't gotten online much lately. I friended them back after the semester was over. I actually changed my account names to just my first and middle name to avoid having too much of this in the future. I also don't have a very exciting social networking personality in the way of fodder for gossip. So I feel perfectly comfortable having former students know who I voted for, what I like to read, and what my religion is, along with seeing a few pretty normal pictures of me with friends and family.
I have a myspace account and LJ account. It wouldn't be hard to find me on myspace (derivative of my name) but I'm relatively anonymous on LJ and I flock my more personal posts. That said - I don't want my students to find me, which is why I don't have a facebook account (I refuse!)

I accept that myspace is pretty public so I wouldn't mind friending a student once the semester is over . I like to keep in touch with former students.

I would not friend an undergrad student on LJ *unless* I had a very good relationship with that student that I could see becoming a friendship post-course (ex. one of my former students now works with my partner so we have a different relationship).

All of the warnings probably go without saying (re: keeping risque stuff off your public posts)