Social Media and the Educator
’21st Century education integrates technologies, engaging students in ways not previously possible, creating new learning and teaching possibilities, enhancing achievement and extending interactions with local and global communities.’ MCEETYA.
There is no escaping it… social media is here, and no matter how much a teacher may want to ignore it, they need to embrace it to give their students more informed approach to using these tools. Educators also need to be well aware of the pitfalls…. many which are widely publicised in the news media.
It’s not however all doom and gloom and scariness, social media can be used safely and effectively with a few simple guidelines. It can bring a new level of connectedness to you and your students. An example, one of the first comments my 2012 Year 12s asked is if we were still going to use Facebook, as they found my reminders for due dates etc very useful. Other staff have told me their discussions with students about using online tools have been along the lines of: “If it’s not on Facebook, we won’t see it”.
CONTACTING students by mobile phone or email “without a valid educational context”.
POSTING any “offensive or slanderous” material about students, parents or colleagues.
SHARING content from personal social media sites, such as their Facebook accounts, with students.
UPLOADING images of themselves that have “potential to negatively affect their reputation”.
“VENTING” about their work, or posting personal or political opinions.
Victorian Independent Education Union secretary Deb James welcomed the campaign, saying social networking had become a minefield for teachers.
So how to work around this minefield, stay safe, with integrity AND use that fantastic resources on offer? A few simple steps is all it will take for you to be able to have personal fun with friends, AND have professional relationships with students. The DEECD website covers a range of elements you will need to be aware of, and strategies for staying safe, respectful, responsible and showing integrity in your digital footprint. In general:
You need to be aware of the code of conduct under which you work as a teacher, the VIT one is linked to above, and any other local policies your school may have in place. Does your school have a Social Media policy?
Is you profile/account on a Facebook/Twitter/etc for personal or professional purposes? The recomendations are that you set up seperate work and play accounts. I find this really useful personally, particularly when you want to chill out, and not think of work!! I actually have 3 online profiles, one for personal, one for students and one for professional – which is where I have developed a wonderful personal learning network through blogging, twitter and a range of other social media sites.
If you are working with students – particularly at junior levels you may need to get parental approval, and you will need to be explicit in your expectations of online behaviour. We are the ones it falls upon to ensure the students leave us with better netiquette, and understanding of the ethics of living in an online world. More often than not, parents are at a loss about how to best support their children, and sadly the news media is filled with tales of children (and adults) making silly mistakes which will hurt their reputation in the future. Things we may well have done as younger people – but we didn’t have the ability to share our stupid acts with the world as easily as the kids do now. Some social media sites require users to be over 13, and it is policy of the department that this ruling is supported by teachers.
The DEECD guidelines takes you through a range of other considerations, mainly relating to professional image, reputation and copyright. Remember that just because it’s on the internet does not mean you are free to use it.
What are some of the strategies you use in your classes to maintain the teacher student protocols? Have you used social media with your students? How have they responded? Thoughts??