Students and Teachers' Relationships on Social Networks

By Tsafi Timor.

Published by The International Journal of Technologies in Learning

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Teachers' roles in the 21st century have become more complex because of today's changing world where knowledge is almost unlimited. The topic of "friendships" between students and teachers on Social Networks (SN) is considered to be a "hot" topic in educational systems worldwide, and whilst teachers are expected to become technologically oriented, the on-going debate on SN in educational settings revolves around issues of benefits and dangers embedded in them, such as maintaining teachers' relevance and meaningfulness to their students without being "friends" on SN. In addition, issues of professional ethics and the contribution of SN to effective teaching are equally considered.
The aim of the study was to gain insights about would-be teachers' perceptions of cyber "friendships" and teachers' role in a world of technological changes. The study was conducted among students of a Master’s program who participated in an online forum of an academic course. A content analysis was conducted on the student's posts. Findings yielded a controversy in the students' opinions. Opponents expressed concerns of privacy, "double" identity, issues of teachers' responsibility outside of school premises, and borders in teachers-pupils' relationships. Most students were aware of the need to adapt their teaching methods to the New Age of the Internet, and are willing to use SN for teaching purposes under some reservations. However, they strongly emphasized the need to maintain the "Spirit of Education" which relates to explicit teaching of values, developing human relations and social skills, enhancing creativity and curiosity, and developing a holistic view of learners.
The main conclusion of the study is that would-be teachers present a balanced approach which incorporates the old (values) and the new (technology) rather than totally abandoning the old for the sake of the new. For them, SN certainly cannot replace the role of a meaningful teacher in class.

Keywords: theme: technologies in learning, Social Networks, Student-teacher Relationships, Technologies in Education

International Journal of Technologies in Learning, Volume 20, Issue 1, March 2014, pp.1-9. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 251.287KB).

Dr. Tsafi Timor

Lecturer; Pedagogical advisor;, Program for Postgraduate Diploma for Teaching, Faculty of Education, The Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts, Tel Aviv, Israel, Israel

Dr. Tsafi Timor is a lecturer in the Kibbutzim College of Education in the Program for Postgraduate Diploma for Teaching, Faculty of Education. Her main research interests are teacher education and pedagogy, class management, the inclusion of students with learning disabilities in mainstream education, and language education. Tsafi is also a psycho-educational diagnostician of learning disabilities, with a special expertise in learning disabilities in EFL.