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Students ‘unemployable because of what they are posting online’

Students are putting themselves at risk of becoming unemployable because of what they are posting online, a social media expert warned.

You will be googled” is the advice that teachers need to spread among students as the informality of social media leads to a merging and blurring of professional and personal boundaries.

 And teachers need to heed it themselves , as their own social media exposure runs the danger of alienating parents, who may not be impressed by some of their activities, a conference heard.

 People using social media needed to realise that with hundres or perhaps thousands of “friends” or followers”, their conversation were not private, said Bernadette John.

Dubliner Ms John, who lectures in Digital Professionalism at King’s College, University of London was speaking on opportunities and risks that social media presents for teachers and students.

She was addressing the annual conference of Education  and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI),the body taking over the functions of the former vocational education committees and the former State training authority FAS.

Ms John said that parents may enjoy sharing teachers’ shots of holidays in Barbados or a big, new car.

She referred to recent cases in the UK and US, one where a teacher and teaching assistant were fired for online posts labelling their pupils “inbred” and shopped in working class supermarkets.

In another case, an American headmaster advised a Scottish university about unfavourable online postings by a former student who was enrolling in the college.

Ms John said the informality of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, were merging and blurring personal and professional boundaries, something that can have personal implications for users.

 She said a conversation on social media was permanently recorded, publicly broadcast, not private, infinitely searchable and endless quotable.

It meant that a basic understanding of the principles of social media was essential for all teachers and students.

“Young people may be technologically adept, but they require guidance and support to ensure that they take a long term view of the potential consequences of the material they share online”

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