I think teachers should think carefully about what their motives are before becoming "friends" with their students on social medial sites. Students make it very clear that they prefer the instant responses they get from these sites, and that communicating through email has become a thing of the past. There are ways that sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be incorporated into a course or lesson, but I think these sites were originally designed for socialization. In the instance of using social media sites as part of a class project, the group should be limited to the students in the class, and conversations should revolved around specific lessons and tasks. In these situations, it should be made clear that personal conversations are restricted.
There have been reports in the news of educators getting in serious trouble,not because they were "friends" with their students, but because they made inappropriate comments on their pages and photos. One case in New York tells of how "one teacher friended several female students and wrote comments including "this is sexy" under their photos, investigators said. A substitute teacher sent a message to a student saying that her boyfriend did not "deserve a beautiful girl like you."
This article is quite interesting, as the Facebook trend has traveled to middle school students, and I see my fellow teachers friend students, and others completely avoid the students.
I think facebook is a very hot topic at this point and there is no clear guidelines on the proper etiquette for a teachers social networking with students.
I personally find that this is too thin of a line to stand near. A teacher should not necessarily be friends with their students, but to show compassion also shows the students that we genuinely do care for our students. But with so many issues surrounding the relationships between teachers and students, I believe that it is best to keep the personal aspect out of the teacher/student relationship.
I could see how facebook could be a good tool for students and teachers to connect in terms of homework assignments, due dates, and questions that might arise while working on these assignments. I have considered creating a "Group" page devoted to my math class, yet not linked to anything outside of school related concepts. It could be a great tool to let the students come together and ask questions towards the teacher or one another, and to help with reminders of events coming up in the class.