An interesting article in The Guardian (G2) appeared yesterday that looked at how social media (i.e. Web 2.0) and mobile telephone technology is said to blur the boundaries between work and home.

The article, however, was set in the context of recent scandals of teachers prosecuted for having affairs with pupils - and how widespread use of email, texting and social networking sites is changing the nature of the teacher-pupil relationship.

What struck me was the following words from the article in questions:

Once upon a time, teachers simply did not exist outside school.

There was a fixed distance; a clear definition of roles; lines that should not and, more often than not, could not be crossed.

Now, contact outside the classroom is not only easier but, in many schools, actively encouraged – school web portals on which teachers and students can upload and download assignments, email each other questions and answers, post announcements and sometimes even chat in real time, are increasingly becoming the norm.

That fixed distance is shortening; those old boundaries – between professional and private, home and school, formal and informal – are blurring.

The article is mainly to do with assessing whether such behaviour may be more of a problem due to the changing nature of how and when teachers communicate with pupils, yet it does say quite a bit about how the advantages of new forms of communication must be carefully against the new risks that comes with it.

Such scandals are only one part of the story.

See Blurred boundaries for teachers by Jon Henley for more details.

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