Going from TMI to A-OK: Does Sharing Personal Information in Social Media Make a Professor More Credible?

If there is one thing that I drill into my undergraduate students (who are also teachers in training), it’s that they need to be careful of what they post online and how they interact with their students via social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Since the news seems filled with horror stories about how inappropriate content and interactions on the Internet can derail teacher-student relationships (and sometimes cause teachers to lose their jobs), I’ve always taken the “better safe than sorry” approach.

However, a recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that college students view professors more credibly if the professors post personal updates, like activities and interests, rather than just academic-related updates. On one hand, this makes some sense. The study goes on to suggest that students “find a professor who tweets personal items to be more caring.” That said, the article also cautions that there are caveats and limitations to sharing information. As one student notes, professors shouldn’t share too much, since “It’s just creepy to get any closer than that superficial level.”

What do you think? Would impersonal personal tweets and Facebook updates make a professor more credible to you?

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