Here’s a post by Janna Flaming, a student in “English 108D: Digital Lives”; she wrote this in September, for a response paper assignment, and it was just so great, and so related to what what happening on the blog (remember those posts?) that I wanted to include her ideas in the conversation. Thanks to Janna for being the first student guest poster!
In the current digital age there have been many problems that have occurred because of unclear boundaries in the geography of cyberspace. Since student/teacher relationships were traditionally built on the university grounds, the hierarchy and boundaries between them were clearly defined. However, in cyberspace, because geography is ambiguous and professorial governance is unclear, when professors and students become Facebook friends, the established hierarchy starts to waver and the boundaries between personal and professional lives are blurred. In Denise Horn’s article, I agree with her colleagues who express concern about privacy when connected to students on Facebook. A breach of privacy in cyberspace may also change professors’ ability to have authority over students. It is better to leave Facebook out of professor/student relationships, because professors allowing students to befriend them on Facebook raises questions that have no clear policies or procedures to provide answers.
Professors should also not befriend students on Facebook because there is a social digital divide. Those professors who allow students to befriend them on Facebook may be giving disproportionate time and attention to those students who have a lot of access to technology. Professors may therefore find it difficult to give poor grades to students with whom they have built a personal relationship through Facebook. As a result, professors should leave Facebook out of the classroom, as it might reinforce already present social class divides between students.
Professors should not befriend their students on Facebook since this relationship may inadvertently heighten an already present social digital divide and have an impact on professorial access. Furthermore, because of unclear geography in cyberspace, professors’ ability to govern students may be compromised when issues arrive online. I believe that professors should not allow students access through Facebook to prevent any possible issues that could occur because cyberspace is changing traditional university relationships.