Pop QuizSecondary Education

Pop Quiz – Hey Sir, Are You On Facebook?

“Are you on Facebook?”


Work with teenagers long enough and this question is sure to rear its head. The answer, of course, is always “I’m not cool enough for that” and that’s usually enough to snip the discussion. In fact, most of them are depressingly eager to accept that particular statement. I’ve had the odd friend request from an enterprising pupil who’s found out my first name and looked me up, but those are easily ignored. My Facebook is locked down tight and the most that a searching pupil could see is my name and a nondescript user picture. I have heard of a couple of colleagues who’ve found themselves in pretty unpleasant situations thanks to having current or former pupils on one social media platform or another, and our local council authority offers training courses to help non-techie education workers avoid trouble on these sites.


However, it seems like there’s a growing feeling that certain types of social media can be very useful in education. Twitter in particular has been used really effectively by various schools to allow pupils to collaborate on projects. One of my friends uses it almost every day to add to her teaching of high school biology and it allows her and her pupils to link up with other schools around the country (and the world). I’ve been using a Facebook-esque site with my senior class to help them write their literature dissertations. This site is specifically designed for use in education and has very strict privacy and security settings: none of my pupils can post a comment without it first being approved by me or by my head of department. It’s been really useful and has generated a lot of excellent discussion.


Social media still gets a lot of bad press in some educational circles and the odd scandalous tale of an unwise or naive teacher getting into hot water only serves to make this worse. However with the right controls and a proper understanding of its benefits and limitations, it seems like certain forms of social media could be really useful inside (and outside) the classroom.


What are your views about the use of social media in education?

Should sites like Twitter have a place in the classroom?

If you’re an educator, have you ever had a problem with social media requests from your students?

The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.

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Alasdair is a high school English teacher in Scotland. He's a passionate skeptic and science fan, which is why he runs a discussion club for young skeptics in his school. He loves space and astronomy more than pretty much anything and is studying for a physics degree in his spare time in order to become qualified to teach science.

He lives with a cat made of distilled hatred and spikes.

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