Social media use continues to be a hot topic in the education world. Four months ago, we posted about the Missouri law that banned electronic communication between students and teachers. Since then, the state repealed the ban and instead mandated that all Missouri school districts develop their own social networking policies.

Though no new laws have been introduced, school administrators around the country are seeking to create stricter guidelines for teacher-student interaction online. School boards in 12 states are updating or revising their social media policies this fall.

Teachers who use social media regularly worry that restrictive policies will limit their ability to engage students outside of the classroom. Other teachers take the opposite stance, feeling that firmer guidelines protect them.

Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan offers some safe tips for teachers engaging in social media with their students:

Create a Friend List: You can create a Friend List called “Students” and adjust your privacy settings to control exactly what your students will see. For example, you might allow students to see your basic profile information, but not your tagged photos or wall posts.

Use Facebook Groups: You can create a Facebook Group for a course you’re teaching or a specific class project, and invite all your students to join the group. That will provide a public way for you and your students to discuss relevant topics.

Notify Parents: It’s always a good idea to notify parents and receive their permission before asking students to join Facebook. Explain to parents exactly how the tool will be used in the classroom — and make sure all students are older than 13.

Do you think stricter social media policies limit teachers or protect them? What guidelines do you use in your social media interaction with students?