This is Part 1 of my series on the responsible use of social media in education. These articles will hopefully provide a starting point for educators surrounding the issues of using social media in the classroom. I will be covering:
- Policy Review
- Selecting the proper Social Networking Site
- Setting Expectations with Students
- Measuring and Monitoring
Integrating Social Media and Networking tools into education is a hot topic these days. Articles such as 25 Ways Teachers Can Integrate Social Media Into Education provide suggestions how teachers and instructors can use these tools to improve student engagement, however it is very rare that you will see one that discusses responsible use. As teachers, instructors, and role models it is your job to ensure that its use provides educational benefit as well as a safe environment where students, as well as yourself, feel comfortable in sharing thoughts and emotions.
Before you begin…
The most important thing you can do is review the social media policies your institution may already have in place that governs your interaction with students on services like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and others. For example, New York City’s Department of Education has released its guidelines for acceptable use within an educational context and describing personal and professional uses of social networks. These guidelines makes it clear that you should be maintaining a professional relationship and if engaging students on personal networks (such as Facebook) to use separate accounts; connections on your personal accounts should be removed. In Canada, the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), released a Social Media Advisory to advise its members of professional use of electronic communication and social media. This advisory not just echoes NYC DOE’s policies, but goes further by explaining professional vulnerability and possible criminal/civil law implications i.e. posting copyright materials without proper attribution, disclosing confidential information as well as examples of contravening the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Criminal Code. Some educational institutions and jurisdictions prohibit the use of social media/networking, so consult before you decide to jump in.
In most cases being professional will keep you out of hot water, but be aware that once you have started using social media in your classes, you may be opening yourself to more than just your students. Quite possibly others may eavesdrop/lurk on your interactions, so being aware and maintaining proper relationships is vitally important. For example, on Twitter, there may not be any protections against parents from viewing your tweets; if they see something that appears controversial you may be asked to explain your intentions.
In Part 2, I’ll explain how selecting the social network(s) that you wish to use is vitally importing