EDTC 6106 Module 3
Promoting Responsible Social Media Use
I remember 11 years ago getting a panicked phone call from a friend, asking for legal advice regarding something that happened while substitute teaching. We both subbed in the same small district, and I was familiar with the schools, staff, etc. She had been falsely accused of using the computer inappropriately in class and middle school students chose to fabricate a story as revenge for her sending two of their friends to the office the day before. Due to my friend using the internet to check Facebook, which was against district policy, she was found guilty and sent home while a full investigation was underway (the accusations were a lot more severe, but she was cleared of those allegations). Her experience led me to be a lot more cautious and aware of my actions and ended up taking her to law school.
The reason this memory comes to mind, connects with my quest to find out how districts can promote responsible social media use and support teachers with ongoing professional development. Recently I’ve been searching for guidelines and policies for staff regarding digital citizenship and social media use. While continuing to look at ISTE Coaching Standard 4b and best practices, I feel many PDs still fall short of supporting teacher growth and development as they focus on curriculum and student data rather than tools that support student growth and personalized learning for teachers.
Social Media Guidelines
Acceptable/responsible use policies for students using the district’s internet seems to be common place and easily found on school district websites. However, the same policies do not seem to be publicly displayed for district employees. For example, I can’t find anything for my district and only vaguely recall learning through word of mouth last year that Facebook was no longer blocked on school computers. The lack of transparency in my own district may be linked to our lack of devices district-wide. While searching other large districts where I’ve worked previously, there staff guidelines were easy to locate and help take away any question about what acceptable use looks like for teachers.
One resource I found helpful comes from New Zealand, Guideline on Ethical Use of Social Media. Looking at this resource from a PD option, I see the one page as a tool that’s user-friendly, allows collaborative discussion to occur, and serves as a starting point when discussing social media use with staff. The four categories they ask teachers to consider are their commitment to students, society, families, and the teaching profession.
How to Make Social Media Work For You
Once guidelines have been established around Social Media Use, it’s important to offer personalized learning for teachers around the app/program they are using to support students and families. This is where time to collaborate and ongoing PD are critical to successful implementation.
If school districts want to use social media and technology to promote collaboration and sharing of ideas, then time needs to be built in throughout the year for teachers to continue exploring, sharing, creating, and becoming independent users of these programs.
Referring back to my previous posts this winter on Motivational Factors and Barriers as well as The Role of Technology in PD, I continue to discover evidence of successful integration from schools/districts that offer ongoing PD at a central location that is led by educators who for in the district. In addition, teacher’s time is recognized somehow whether it be extra pay, badges, credits, clock hours, certification. Similar to districts in previous posts, Carson City School District in Nevada, identified a need to support tech integration when they began to transition to a 1:1 district for grades 3-12.
How does this support personalised PD? Carson City School District allocate 4 hours on Wednesdays to optional PD at their Professional Development Center, referring to this time as Technology Café. I like their acronym CAFÉ, because it aligns with the best practices in Dr. Lisa Kolb’s Triple E Framework.
What does this look like? Teachers can choose how long they visit the Café, who they collaborate with, what lessons or resources they need, and seek advice from colleagues as well as tech specialists. Having a weekly common meeting place that provides snacks and caffeine as well as teacher driven PD, allows teachers to explore ideas or programs they may have considered yet not yet approached due to lack of how they align with district goals and policies. Personally, when I read this, I was immediately filled with envy thinking about how awesome that would be! The district found this PD strategy effective with an average of 24 teachers attending each week when this article was published in 2015.
In Monica Fuglei’s post Social Media in Education: Benefits, Drawbacks and Things to Avoid, she breaks down why teachers should consider using social media professionally, not just personally. We know that social media is not a fad likely to fade any time soon. Students enter our rooms familiar with apps either they use personally, or they have seen in action. If teachers are not ready to use apps/networks such as Twitter or Edmodo yet with students, there is still so much to be gained by joining groups of professionals online to share resources, ideas, and network.
Social Media Profiles and Communication
With so many educational apps being introduced all the time, it can be daunting for teachers to know where to begin and what is allowed in their district. Each district has their own rules, but each district should also have tech specialist who are available to answer questions for educators. When it comes to using social media to connect with others, there has been a heavy emphasis on professionalism, privacy settings, and district policies. If a teacher is looking for another way to connect, online blogs offer a great way to share information with families and many now have private messaging options for parents and teachers. I bring this up as an alternative to teachers friending parents/students on apps such as Facebook.
Putting My Own Words Into Action
Presently, I’m using Seesaw with my students and love the way parents can see and comment on their child’s work, bonus is that they can do it in any language. This helps show students that what they post is viewed by others and helps raise the bar for how they choose to submit posts. In addition, I have moderation power, and choose to read each post/comment before approving to our class page. This year I’ve been learning with my students how Seesaw works, and I’ve been overall impressed with the thoughtful comments they leave on their peers work. As educators, we need to continuously look at how we can modernize our teaching to help prepare our students for future learning goals. Using social media or apps for communication allows teachable moments in digital citizenship that can help our students as 21st century learners.
Without joining Seesaw Facebook groups, webinars, and following on Twitter or Instagram, I wouldn’t feel nearly as confident using the app, let alone modeling how it works for other teachers. Within my own building, my hope is that several of the teachers who’ve shown interest in Seesaw will actively use the program next year. I realise however, for this to work, we need time to collaborate, for them to see it in action with students, and more than a one time PD session. So how can I take this to the next level? Networking! Using my social media contacts, I am confident I can ask for support on how other schools have introduced Seesaw in schools with similar demographics and limited devices. Through social media contacts outside of my district, I can learn from others and hopefully implement a PD session in August for a new PLC group next year that are interested in using digital portfolios to monitor student growth.
Morris, L. (2015, February 27). Turn tech PD into a casual trip to the CAFE with this new model. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/02/27/cafe-pd-model-531/
Davis, M. (2013, February 26). Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/social-media-resources-educators-matt-davis
Fuglei, M. (2017, November 13). Dos and Don’ts for Using Social Media as a Teacher. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/leaders-link/educational-social-media-use/
Higgin, T. (2017, November 30). How to Craft Useful, Student-Centered Social Media Policies. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog/how-to-craft-useful-student-centered-social-media-policies?utm_source=Edu_Newsletter_2018_02_13&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly