I'm still new to this all but I was surprised by this story at BBC News about a teacher in trouble for using Twitter at some point during the school day from his or her mobile phone and commenting in a very general way about his or her classes.

Obviously students shouldn't be accessing social networks during class time without teacher supervision but these networks, Twitter included, can be great tools for learning if used with proper guidance. So why would a school issue a blanket ban on the use of social networks, by faculty and staff as well as students, without any exception?

Teachers shouldn't be updating personal blogs and sending out personal tweets during periods when they are actively teaching a class, but do the schools have the right to clamp down on teachers during breaks between classes, lunch times, and free periods? I know there are always lessons to be planned and papers to be graded but why can't you get that done and still update a blog or send out a tweet without coming off as unprofessional?

Teachers should never publicly release private information about identifiable students but in this case not even the BBC, one of the most resourceful news organizations in the world, could scour this teacher's Twitter account and find anything more damning than "Have three Asperger's boys in S1 class - never a dull moment! Always offer an interesting take on things." This is the only example from the article that I'd consider to be over the privacy line and barely at that. The other comments, such as the one wondering if a certain class is as sick of their teacher as he/she is of them, might be inappropriate and unprofessional but clearly raise no privacy concerns.

Schools should be allowed to limit teacher access from school-owned computers in the same way other employers limit access to non-work related websites. Or try to. But what you do with your own damn phone should be your own damn business.

Am I missing anything?

Tags: twitter

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I think there is a very fine line here. Learning to use twitter as a professional educator ( and for that matter all web2.0 tools) requires a certain understanding about the concept of public space. When we blog, twitter or post to forums we are in public space and therefore oue statements reflect on our school and on our professional persona. In the case you describe the issue may not be so much one of privacy as of professional persona. What we might say in the faculty room we do not broadcast in the parking lot or on the playground. We all have frustrating moments and days but they are best kept to private conversations.
As a principal do I want teachers announcing to the world ( which includes their students and parents) that they are "sick " of a class?
It's inappropriate and unprofessional, but is it so extreme as to warrant a story on BBC News? Would this be a story at all if they couldn't fit "Twitter" into the headline?
Good point Greg!
I think the news report is a big over-reaction, having seen the posts by the teacher concerned.

But it does open up the discussion - as teachers, do we need to be careful about what we say on twitter so that we do not open ourselves up for similar action from our Headteachers (or even worse, the media)

Have blogged about this here, would welcome comments:
http://www.whiteboardblog.co.uk/2009/05/online-spaces-and-codes-of-...

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