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Should Teachers and Students Be Allowed to Communicate via Social Media

Should Teachers and Students Be Allowed to Communicate via Social Media

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Published by Steve Olenski
A state law in Missouri, which would have prevented teachers and students from communicating privately over the Internet on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter was temporarily blocked, but if the injunction is lifted, it could have national implications.
A state law in Missouri, which would have prevented teachers and students from communicating privately over the Internet on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter was temporarily blocked, but if the injunction is lifted, it could have national implications.

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Published by: Steve Olenski on Sep 13, 2011
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BySteve Olenski
(/blog/contributors/steve-olenski)Home (/)»Blog (/blog)
Should Teachers And Students BeAllowed To Communicate Via SocialMedia?
Posted on Fri, Sep 2nd,2011
A state law in Missouri, which would have prevented teachers andstudents from communicating privately over the Internet on social mediasites such as Facebook and Twitter was temporarily blocked, but if theinjunction is lifted, it could have national implications.
The law, also known as Senate Bill 54 or the Amy Hestir Student ProtectionAct, aims to fight inappropriate contact between students and teachers, includingprotecting children from sexual misconduct by their educators and is namedafter a Missouri public school student who was repeatedly molested by a teacher several decades ago.The use of social media as a teaching tool is growing in popularity around thecountry as teachers continue to seek out new ways to communicate andeducate their students. It seems however that at least one person, Missouri stateSenator Jane Cunningham, a St. Louis Republican and key sponsor of theaforementioned law is not all that enamored with social media use betweenstudents and teachers. Although for her part, she's more concerned about thesecret discussions that can go on online between teachers and underagestudents... "It (the law) doesn't stop any avenue of communication whatsoever, itonly prohibits hidden communication between educators and minors who havenot graduated,"For their part, theM (http://www.msta.org/) issouri State Teachers Association(MSTA) (http://www.msta.org/)who contended the new law would violate freespeech and other rights, disagreed with the senator. saying in their lawsuitamong other things... "The act is so vague and over-broad that (teachers)cannot know with confidence what conduct is permitted and what is prohibitedand thereby 'chills' the exercise of first amendment rights of speech, association,religion, collective bargaining and other constitutional rights."The judge who issued the injunction- Cole County Circuit Court JudgeJon Beetem, seemed to agree...""The court finds that the statutewould have a chilling effect onspeech."There also appears to be a bit of hesaid/she said going on as senator Cunningham said the teachers' association supported the law and helped draftsome of the language. However a spokesman for the MSTA disagreed,contended the MSTA did not review the final language regarding social media
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and that the use of social media was just one part of a much larger bill designedto discourage private relationships between teachers and students that havesometimes led to sexual abuse.The injunction is set to expire on February 20, 2012 and from now until then allparties involved will work to come to a happy medium.I wanted to dig a little deeper... I told you I'm naturally curious and love to "gobehind the numbers (https://www.stargroup1.com/blog/trends-social-advertising-survey-behind-numbers)" if you will and so I reached out to the MSTA andspoke with Aurora Meyer, Online Community Coordinator from the MSTA to gether thoughts on the judge’s ruling.
SO: Why is this issue of such importance to the MSTA?
AM: Our biggest concern was that the bill was so unclear as to define what ateacher could and could not do, that teachers started to ask questions that noone had answers to. When districts are telling their teachers to delete their Facebook pages and warning coaches to stop texting players to tell them a buswill be late, we knew wecouldn't wait for a special session of the legislature.Additionally, this particular issue took a national tone, and we started to hear from teachers not just in Missouri but from throughout the United States.
SO: What message do you think this injunction sends to teachers,students and anyone else who uses social media?
AM: To quote from theinjunction (http://bit.ly/rme3Oy): "Social networking isextensively used by educators. It is often the primary, if not sole manner, of communications.”To quote from our press release (http://bit.ly/pb8erC): "This gives everyone timeto debate and discuss the issue to come to a proper resolution rather thanrushing to piece together language that doesn't resolve the concerns of educators or allow time for teacher input." - Gail McCray, MSTA's legal counsel
SO: Do you think student/teacher interaction via social media should bemonitored under any circumstances?
AM: Most school districts already have policies in place to deal with socialnetworking sites and how teachers and students are using social media. Manyteachers also have personal policies. We want to allow the districts to determinetheir own needs.Ok, your thoughts...What do you think of the use of social media in the classroom?Is it ok to use it as a tool?Should teachers be allowed to communicate with their students via social mediaas long as it's for educational purposes?Source:Reuters (http://www.reuters.com), Google ImagesTags:Amy Hestir Student Protection Act (/category/tags/amy-hestir-student-protection-act) Aurora Meyer (/category/tags/aurora-meyer) Cole CountyCircuit Court Judge Jon Beetem (/category/tags/cole-county-circuit-court-judge- jon-beetem) facebook (/category/tags/facebook) Gail McCray (/category/tags/gail-mccray) Jane Cunningham (/category/tags/jane-cunningham)missouri state teachers association (/category/tags/missouri-state-teachers-association) MSTA (/category/tags/msta) Senate Bill 54 (/category/tags/senate-bill-54) social media (/category/tags/social-media) socialmedia a teaching tool (/category/tags/social-media-teaching-tool) socialnetworking (/category/tags/social-networking) twitter (/category/tags/twitter)
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