Social Networking and Educators – What Should We Do?

There was an article in the THES this week about MySpace and how Lecturers have found themselves mentioned, and generally not in polite favourable terms.  (Link: a bit of learned and scholarly on the implications of social networking on HE)

I came up against this a couple of months ago, during a short time when MySpace was allowed through the College Firewall. I put the college name in the box and discovered that students had created a group already, using the college logo, copied of the website. There were about 20 members, students and ex-students. I spoke with the publicity people about it at the time, to see if they knew.

 A little searching on the subject revealed that some universities do have their own groups, and some of these groups are at least semi-official. I looked carefully into setting up something similar. It seems to me that the enthusiasm that students were showing in creating and contributing to an online group based around the college was a valuable and precious thing, and needs to be encouraged. The efforts that marketing people go to to create a ‘brand loyalty’, and we have it right there on the web.

Until we worked out a suitable policy on this group, I mailed the girl who started it, said hello, and could you not use our offical logo, which she removed. She sent an enthusiastic response to my suggestion that the college should have a group – if we created it, we would be able to moderate it, for example. And she told me about a group that exists on another social network site that has 250 members!

Its difficult to swim against the flow; I volunteered to look into creating a new group.

Before I could, MySpace has been re-added top the list of banned sites, and you cant access it from here. So I suppose whatever they say about us, we wont hear. Unless there is a scandal. And god knows what the other groups say. Long live the freedom of speech!


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