Creating Social Media Guidelines for Educators
More videos are uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than the combined number NBC, ABC, and CBS have produced in 60 years, and yet many schools restrict students from accessing this world of information.
At 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, administrators at North Carolina’s Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS) gave teachers permission to use YouTube in their classrooms. As Steven Anderson and Sam Walker presented the session “Understanding and Creating Social Media Guidelines for Educators,” teachers in WSFCS tweeted to thank them for pushing for this access.
Anderson, a WSFCS district instructional technologist, and Walker, a technology facilitator at the district’s Kimmel Farm Elementary, are at the forefront of bringing social media into the classroom and teaching safe and ethical use. With their help, Kimmel Farm Elementary became the first North Carolina school to include teaching social media in their school improvement plan.
"We live in a world where we’re hyperconnected and our students are even more hyperconnected than we are," Anderson said.
Anderson and Walker recommended that schools ask students how much access they have to the Internet, social media, and social networking —the numbers will surprise many. Forty-one percent of the 3rd through 5th grade students Walker surveyed reported having a Facebook account. Worldwide 21,000 kids log into Club Penguin, the number one social networking site for kids under 12 years old, every hour.
"The reality is kids live in these spaces, but when they come to the school door, we say no," Anderson said.
Although Walker and Anderson recognize the vast potential of social media, they understand educators’ concerns. At Kimmel Farm Elementary, they have helped craft online policies to help guide educators. The policies include
- Don’t share secrets.
- Protect your own privacy.
- Be honest.
- Respect copyright laws.
- Be the first person to admit your mistakes.
- Think about the consequences.
- Don’t neglect your day job.
- Remember that quality matters.
Even online the school’s code of conduct still applies. So teachers should use common sense, Walker and Anderson warned. Inappropriate student-teacher relationships are not allowed online just as they are not allowed in or out of the classroom.
Anderson and Walker had recommendations for students too, and they encouraged educators to include students in crafting social media policies and best practice guidelines. Anderson cited one example of students who created a district’s mission statement in World of Warcraft. Student collaboration is one benefit of social media that Walker said he believes in, and it’s a benefit he said schools should not deny.
However, teachers should remind students to be mindful of their presence online. Studies report nearly 25 percent of selective colleges and universities check applicants’ Facebook accounts. What Anderson wants is for schools to help students learn how and what to share so that students can be proud of their digital footprints.
"What we’re teaching them in our schools is to have that presence, so when they go to college, colleges can see the positive [things] they’re doing," he said. "Ultimately kids have to know how to manage this themselves, ethically and responsibly."
The full presentation is available online at http://bit.ly/ascdsocialmedia.