If you read the social media infographic before scrolling down, you know without a doubt that social media is here to stay. Popular platforms will change over time, but one thing is obvious–many of us access some kind of social media at least once a day, if not more! This conscious act has become part of our daily routine–it’s so common, it’s like brushing teeth or combing hair. What does all of this mean when it comes to educating young people? Let’s explore the possibilities …
This week I have been asked, via my EdTech 543 course, to develop a 10 point social media policy and share it with either school faculty and staff, or students. Because our school division just released its social media policy for employees, I decided to draft a policy that is directed at high school students (grades 9 – 12).
After examining several K-12 exemplars, it is abundantly clear that most schools are either open to social media use or they are not. Some schools do not allow personal electronic devices nor do they encourage social media use at all. (Scary, isn’t it?) Others, on the other hand, embrace social media and have already developed a social media policy that suits their interests and needs. Despite the fact that a social media policy for students is not in place, our school administrators encourage social media use for educational purposes. This is probably due to the fact that the school division is very supportive of utilizing social media tools in the classroom.
In the past our school division created an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and all of the schools followed it. Right now, however, the division expects the schools to develop and support their own AUP. This means each school may tailor the policy to meet their educational requirements. The same applies for developing a social media policy. Although the school has an AUP in place, it has not developed a social media policy as of yet.
Schools that do not foster social media use (nor develop a social media policy) are placing their students in a precarious position. Students need role models and specific guidelines to follow if they are to learn how to use social media tools effectively. Young people are using social media outside of school and many will be expected to continue using it while attending a post-secondary institution or working full time. Carrying on without in house usage or a policy would be like giving a teenager a set of car keys and saying “drive” even though they have only ever been a passenger. If we do not “guide” students in their practice, how can we expect them to be good digital citizens?
During my research I also noticed that some school policies seem too punitive or too controlling. One school policy was worded using only negative language. It turned me off. I firmly believe it would turn students off too. A positive or nurturing approach seems more appropriate to me. Kanter (2011) recommends a policy that isn’t “about control, but more on how to use the tools effectively.” Social media is here to stay; that means it is necessary for us to allow our students to practice social media etiquette and appropriate on-line behaviour. More importantly, schools should fully embrace social media because it engages students, fosters collaboration, and encourages creativity and thoughtfulness. The schools who decide not be a part of this movement are foolish; their students are full fledge members already. However, many of them are driving without taking a single lesson. (Scary, isn’t it?)
Because the thought of our students driving a very expensive vehicle without an operator’s license scares me, I have chosen to share my social media policy with key people in our school. Obviously, I would approach our administrative team first. However, I would also like to get feedback from teachers as well–even those who do not use social media in their classroom. The fact that the draft policy is a Google document makes it very easy to share and just as easy to collect feedback. Even if the policy is not accepted, it is time to have the much needed conversation that goes along with presenting the document. Another option is to simply use this policy in my own classroom. In the past I have had students help develop rubrics; why not have them develop a social media policy for their own classroom? Again a Google document makes sharing and “revising” easier! Nothing ventured, nothing gained–right?!
Fortunately there are schools (and business) who have realized the importance of implementing a social media policy. In fact many schools use social media to engage and educate their students so a policy is necessary. As part of last week’s assignment, I curated examples of schools (or teachers) that have successfully used social media in their English-Language Arts programs. To explore this further, please visit my Scoop.it topic: ELA Social Media Projects.
If you would like to develop your own social media policy, or broach the topic with your colleagues, the following resources may be useful to you. The social media policy I developed also has resources for you to consider.
School Policy Resources
This Edutopia article provides 7 important steps to take as well as excellent resources.
Kanter explains what a social media policy is and the process it takes to create one. She also offers concrete examples of policies and a social media policy template as well.
Although this Mashable article highlights tips for businesses, many of the same pointers apply to schools. The article also provides a sample policy.
This PB wiki is a collaborative project that provides direction when using social media applications both inside and outside the classroom.
This ASCD article clearly outlines why social media and school policies must become “friends”.
Social Media in the Classroom
This Edudemic article not only provides 22 uses it aligns the activities with Bloom’s Taxonomy.
This wikiHow page walks you through the process one step at a time.
This blog discusses how one school has been using Twitter in the classroom.
UBC encourages their faculty and staff to use social media in order to engage others.
The Mashable article focuses on using Facebook pages instead of a personal account and also discusses how to establish boundaries.
This updated Online College article highlights how Facebook can be used in a variety of ways: sharing resources, exemplars of projects and assignments, and even classroom management opportunities.
This Education Week blog promotes Facebook’s newest guide (2013) which was developed by an education think tank in the UK.