An ARS Technica article tells about a Ohio Education Association (OEA) memo recommending teachers to not participate in social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook. The reason given is to keep any possible inappropriate postings from being used against teachers by administration or parents which could jeopardize careers. Another reason given by the OEA is to make sure there is no question if students post fake sites in an attempt to embarrass teachers. A third reason is students using these sites to contact teachers could be considered inappropriate contact even if the site is considered professional.
While it is commendable for the OEA to take these steps to protect is members which is one of the purposes of the organization, this position is too drastic. What the OEA should do is sponsor workshops and in services to educate teachers about social networking and how they work. These workshops could include information on appropriate use, how to spot fake sites and what to do when one is found, and how they can be used for professional development and networking. Social networking sites are being used by professionals to network and share information with other professionals more and more. For teachers to not make use of these professional opportunities is short sighted.