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How to establish authentic relationships with students through online communication?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by natalia9208, Oct 5, 2016.

  1. natalia9208

    natalia9208 New commenter

    Let's make this the thread for those who are struggling with online communication and collaboration with students. Share your experience and frustrations here.

    Put me on the right direction here, if I'm wrong, but I see a huge issue in effective communication between students and teachers online.
    Comprehensive amount of educational softwares which are recommended to use for communication, monitoring, and providing feedback to students online, are not engaging to collaborate at all. The problem is, that nowadays education is flexible, responsive and personalized. Educational software is quite the opposite — complex platforms focus on automation, generic task management and deserted discussion boards.
    And the truth is, that teachers and students still rely to use personal channels of communication, such as Facebook and Twitter, or exchange countless emails just to conduct a simple discussion.

    So, how to establish authentic relationships with students through online communication?
    Share your experience on how do you handle online communication with your students, which tools do you use?
  2. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Why? 'Here is your homework. Hand it in/complete it by Friday.' I'm not at all sure why you would want to have discussions with students online. I'd be pretty worried if any of my children's teachers were doing that.
    peggylu, sabrinakat, bevdex and 4 others like this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Why not make a Facebook group?

    As admin you just invite the members of your class.

    "Don't forget you'll need your x, y, z tomorrow."

    "There's been a change of plan. College links are cancelled tomorrow."

    Or tweet house-keeping stuff.

    But there's really no need. Not only that. How many hours are there in the day?

    Don't you work enough hours in the day already. It'd be endless. Having online discussions during the evening. I don't think so. Listen during the lesson and go away again. It has worked well enough for hundreds of years. Aren't we supposed to be looking more at digital detox than increasing our online time?

    This isn't ancient Greece. We're not strolling in the groves of academe with Plato and Aristotle. Go to work. Do your stuff. Come home. Have a think about the next day. Do a bit of marking. Have a life.

    Be at their beck and call all day and night? No chance.
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Get it right and you'll make a rock for your own back, end up being on call day and night and probably burn out.... Get it wrong and you will end up vilified, out of work and possibly with a criminal record.
  5. peakster

    peakster Star commenter


  6. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    If you are a teacher, concentrate on the other stuff.

    If you are from some start-up tech company, I would forget the idea.

    We live in a world where online communication between teachers and students is viewed, at best, suspiciously, at worst as a massive child protection fail. While 'student dialogue' seems to be all the rage in some schools now, online communication can take place outside of school hours and for that alone, it gets iffy. A professional marking dialogue could rapidly turn into the student asking 'Having a good evening Miss' followed by some hideous emoji and anything other than blanking the student or redirecting the student to their work landing the teacher with a grooming charge.
  7. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    'Share your experience on how do you handle online communication with your students, which tools do you use?'

    The OFF button :D
  8. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    I may be completely wrong on this, but I suspect the OP could be starting their training (if not, I apologise). I did my training a few years ago and there was a big focus on using IT and the internet for things like blogs, wikis and shared learning. I was seen as a bit of a 'dinosaur' because I didn't embrace it all unreservedly.
    slingshotsally and wanet like this.
  9. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I really think that out of all the problems and headaches in this job, you have settled to look for a solution to a problem that isn't there.

    Not once have I ever considered communication with my students an issue. I can ring their parents if I need to. If it ain't that serious I can wait until lesson. It is that simple. That is before we get into the child protection minefield
  10. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    If you are trying to market some kind of business I suggest you brush up on your English grammar.
  11. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    I don't even answer a student or parent email without cc'ing the HOD or SMT into my reply and I always word replies very cautiously.

    Personally I'm uncomfortable with any online 'outside school hours - private communication methods' with secondary & primary aged school children.

    These days there are too many parents/students/newspapers out there willing to twist even the most innocuous teacher action or comment into the suspicious, scurrilous or even libellous.

    Cynical...you bet!
  12. natalia9208

    natalia9208 New commenter

    Wow, I knew this can be a hustle for traditional schools, but I didn’t think it’s a complete no-no with tragic outcomes all over the place. :)
    I’m in vocational training, and with all its downsides it’s hardly possible to work without communicating with students online.
    I think the horrors you mention with criminal records and worried parents apply only to middle schoolers. I have never heard of online or high school teacher being burnt for staying in touch. :confused:
  13. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    In my mainstream days, the students knew how to find me if they needed help. They found me for help on occasion. They could have communicated via school e-mail. Year 13 btec students occasionally (and appropriately) used this channel. We used show my homework. Nothing else necessary.
    peggylu and DYNAMO67 like this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    When you say vocational training, I assume you mean adults in a college rather than school? Which is a different set of circumstances entirely.

    People have answered from the point of view of school teachers, and secondary/high schools are where the most caution is needed, but where the most likelihood of problems will occur.
  15. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Because my union advice - and that of other unions here - is that I should avoid contact with pupils via social media.

    I communicate with pupils through work email and work systems which are monitored and backed up so that if a child accuses me of anything inappropriate, the evidence is there to show exactly what was said. Most educational establishments which require online communication between student and teacher will have these things.
  16. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    There is online communication, don't get us wrong. But like as @phlogiston points out many of us have never been in a scenario where email is not enough. I have all my sixth formers emails for example. Haven't emailed them this year. At points I probably will but it is not the be all and end all.

    I can't imagine a scenario where I would want/need to communicate on an online platform other than this?
  17. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    You're not in the UK are you? Or perhaps you come from a different culture & society? (North America, possibly?)

    If you seriously ant to communicate with students (of any age, I'd suggest) then do so via the system used by your school/college/institution - as other shave said this way you (& the student) are protected. Social media - no, no, no....
  18. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    The whole idea of communicating with students online fills me with horror. I don't need an extra layer of communication thank you very much, nor do I want my free time filled with requests to help with this, or look at that. Monday to Friday during school hours will more than suffice. No wonder so many teachers are on their **** with ideas like this floating about.
  19. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I fail to see why you would need to be in constant communication.

    It's very poor training for the workplace.

    It just makes them reliant on constantly double-checking.

    Your boss asks you to do something. You then email them to check. Then a text message.

    You should be training people to listen or be told something once and then act on it. Anything else just leads to an inevitable interchange of 'do you mean' and 'shall I just' and 'what if I' and 'would it be OK if' and 'how many words did you say' and 'can you just check this' and 'how do you think I'm getting on'.

    No. It fosters dependence and lack of self-reliance. If you can't communicate coherently the first time then it's you who needs to examine your own practice.
    peggylu likes this.
  20. impossibility

    impossibility New commenter

    I made a Facebook group for my A-Level students and it's had pros and cons. I only had 20 students last year and all joined the group. They were sharing relevant tips for exams, relevant real world examples and having heated debates sometimes at 1am on a Saturday! I thought this was really nice to observe. They got so engaged in the subject totally on their own and I also feel it helped to bond them as a group, as well as build genuine relationships with myself as I sometimes chipped into the debates too. It was also invaluable for reminding about homework or something I might have forgotten to mention in class. All students would see a message within an hour. You don't get that with college email.

    Cons...it became too personal. I decided not to make another for my next AS group. I had students facebook messaging me...which didn't initially bother me and I'd reply. It started to be at unreasonable hours though and I found I couldn't switch off. I wanted to be accessible but they were becoming too demanding. Some students also tried to start normal conversations sometimes too about unrelated things. I am a young teacher with a small age gap with my students so a lot sometimes saw me as a friend. Facebook doesn't help this due to how personal it is. You live and learn!

    I have a colleague who made a fake facebook profile for his group so he didn't have to interact on his personal one.

    You cannot change the fact that if you want a quick online way to contact students, Facebook will always rule. They don't check emails and alternatives like wamedu that our college have tried to pawn off are a joke. Seeing as I work in a college Facebook rules are a bit more laid back. I'd imagine Facebook wouldn't be as accepted in secondary.

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