In my ‘spare’ time I am an associate lecturer for the OU on S104 a first level 60 point course on general science. This is the second presentation I’ve taught and the course is just kicking off. The course has tutor-supported discussion groups with several assessed activities, all held in the crumbling edifice of First Class (an email-based system). The ‘tutor group forums’ struggle to take off, I have only 19 students at the moment, and even with latecomers won’t have more than 25. The forum’s success is very much dependent on the students we get, and while last year’s was OK, it never really had much spark and was mostly led by me.
At a staff development day it was mentioned that there were several S104 groups on Facebook. I’ve been off to have a look and there are several active groups, in particular one for this presentation, and one of my students is very active on there. I’m wondering whether I should go and say hello. I am pretty likely to be the only tutor on the group. However, I should think that this is most likely a place that students want to chat without a tutor looking over them (as OU student and colleague Andy suggests). I know the OU has created Facebook apps and promotes OU groupings on facebook and I know of one group that is specifically using a closed group for teaching, but I’m pretty dubious about engaging with my students in this way.
Seeing something to do with ‘work’ on Facebook has made me think about my own online identity. I have two main channels, Facebook and twitter (@jobadge).
I am pretty much ‘social/personal’ me when I’m on Facebook, my network is made up of friends, old college mates who have known me under more dubious circumstances and other mums from school. It includes a couple of work colleagues but they manage to put up with me and I (hope) recognise the difference in context. My privacy settings are limited to allow access only to friends and so it’s slightly more private than twitter.
My ‘work’ persona is alive and well on twitter. My twitter followers and friends are colleagues, in the OU, at Leicester University and beyond. I may still twitter about baking bread and of course there is endless #cake discussion, but it is primarily a work channel.
I doubt I’ll join my students on Facebook, but it would be nice to find some S104 tutors on twitter 🙂