Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Chatting With Students Online

I can't see a good reason to do so.

I give my Yahoo email to my seniors when they graduate, and a few actually make use of it. One or two students have figured out my email from my blog profile page--no big deal. At most they've emailed me to let me know they found it. Any other student who has my email uses it extremely rarely, and it stays professional--job references, college or military information, and the like. I remember looking my teachers up in the phone book; I wouldn't have dreamed of calling them, but it was funny, somehow, knowing they were listed.

With internet chat, though, lines can get blurred. Is there really a reason to chat with current students online? Full disclosure: I just finished a Yahoo Messenger chat with a former student of mine who attends one of our service academies (and talked on the phone to another such former student last night)--but I'm sure we can all agree that that's not even in the same league as sex chat with a current student.

I'd ask what such people are thinking, but it's clear they're not.


Coach Brown said...

Ban the technology because someone misuses it?

I can't see any reason to chat with students for any other reason than to help them out. But to generalize that there is no reason isn't very realistic. Ask the KIPP teachers.

Darren said...

Fine. I didn't really spend a lot of time trying to think of any possible reason why someone might chat regularly with their students online.

But who said anything about banning technology?

DADvocate said...

I would find it a little creepy of my kids chatted with teachers online. I like teachers being the authority figure, not a friend. Friendly is OK. Friend, not OK, until they graduate from high school.

Robert said...

I use IM as an extension of office hours or sometimes hallway conversations. I have students who might have a quick question who would rather IM me about it than walk across campus. Or, I've had commuter students who live an hour away and cannot come to office hours, and it's worked very well for them.

IM has great potential for improving student learning if used properly. It's all in how the teacher manages the tone of the conversation taking place. I make sure that IM conversations are professional in tone, or at least clearly within the context of a professor-student relationship -- no silly stuff, no text-message-ese (yes, I use complete sentences when I chat), and so forth. Certainly no sexual stuff -- how creepy would *that* be?

Darren said...

That seems reasonable--but you're also dealing with adults. As for your last question: *very* creepy!

rightwingprof said...

Well, there's online office hours, which is, basically, chat. Course, sex talk doesn't really qualify as an appropriate topic, unless you're teaching a sex ed class. Or something.

Ellen K said...

I have Facebook and MySpace, mainly to communicate with my own children. I never seek out students, although a few have found me. I never allow them access until after they graduate. A few have emailed me via the school address. It's always nice to hear from a former student who has succeeded, but for people with evil intents, this is just too much access. There's never a good reason to chat online or call on a personal phone line with students.

Mrs. C said...

Darren, bless you for posting this.

I've had a situation in which my son needed to make some phone calls back and forth to a teacher's residence to chat. He was helping tutor during summer school, and this teacher was literally graduatING from college and this was her first job. She had no school contact things set up yet. They had not met yet and needed to go over some things about how the classroom would be run and what times he was to show up to help out. For HER protection, I was in the room with Patrick during her conversations with my son.

It's not that my son would make an advance on the teacher, or vice versa. Just that there would be no misunderstandings and nothing would "look" out of place to anyone. YK?

BTW, I think teacher email is a wonderful idea. Then it's very clear it's a SCHOOL communication because it comes from the school. So Joe Smith would have or something like that as an email. :]

Donalbain said...

I use email as a handy way of getting homeworks handed in. Especially for powerpoint or animation homeworks, that makes a lot of sense to me. However, I would never engage in any real time i-chat with a pupil. However, I have no doubt that the generation of teachers after me will probably do so.