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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Social Media in Schools

Social Media in Schools

Related Tags: School Leadership
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14 Replies 791 Views
I am interested in everyone's thoughts on the role of social media in schools. Does your school have a policy? If not, do you think one should be developed? In your opinion, what role does/should social media play in the education of students today? What sites are blocked at your school?

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Mitchell Jorgensen (mbjorgensen)'s picture
Facilitator 2014

I am a state level Technology Trainer in Utah. In this role I travel throughout our state working with different districts and administrators. From my experience policies are inconsistent. Some districts have no policy but consider or treat this as inappropriate contact with students. Other districts have a policy that teachers aren't allowed to connect with students via Social media, and I have heard of some districts and administrators outside of Utah that have encourage teachers to avoid social media completely. I also heard that Nebraska's Teacher Union (I think it was Nebraska) created a policy that they would not defend any teacher who was on social networks. Some districts and administrators are using it to communicate with their constituents. Namely, David S. Doty of the Canyons School district who tweets as CanyonsDave.

I am really interested to see what folks are doing around the U.S. because my question and concern is how do educators stay relevant if they are completely out of the environment that students are spending 30% of their free time in? I can see ways that Social Media can be used in classrooms, but I am concerned about encouraging it if districts nationwide are going to be disciplining teachers for connecting with people or using social media.

Personally, I really love a phrase that I heard from Patrick Black (twitter: teachntech00) who blogged about right relationships. I believe there is a way to develop right relationships online and face 2 face that encourage and inspire our young people. Contact or a relationship online is not sinister simply because it is online.

Eric Sheninger's picture
Eric Sheninger
Principal at New Milford High School
Blogger 2014
Facilitator 2014

You bring up many excellent points. Districts are all over the place on this topic and most do not have a policy or see social media as a vital learning tool. Districts are too afraid of students accessing inappropriate content, which results in clouded judgment. Aren't we all in education to provide students the best education possible through a variety of methodologies that accommodate all learning styles? If so, social media fills a much needed niche for today's learner.

Unfortunately the end result is that the students and teachers suffer. I want my teachers to utilize social media in the classroom and many yearn to. However, when I can't get sites like You Tube unblocked for educational purposes the teachers become disinterested.

Relevancy is key to motivating students and engaging them in the learning process. The question now becomes how can we change the perspective of many districts/stakeholders that social media is an evil force that has no place in the classroom? Teachers and students need to have access to 21st Century technologies that can only help to increase student achievement.

Dave Meister's picture
Dave Meister
Director at Paris Cooperative High School

I am in a position that allows me to experiment with social media and how the teachers can use it. I am the director of the only cooperative high school in Illinois. It is governed by two school districts. Each district has an equal number of board members. We have a Fortigate web filter to which I have the "keys". I can allow websites that it blocks based on my judgement. I allow teachers to have access to most social networking sites (at this time I am not sure any are blocked that the teachers have asked to use). We do not have a written policy on the use of social networking but I ask the teachers to keep social interaction in the open and to treat it as if what they say or do is visible to all of their students, their parents and the community as a whole. So far teachers and students are using it appropriately. I am hoping that more of my staff will begin to use the tools that will help them be more relevent to their students.

M.E.Steele-Pierce, PhD's picture
M.E.Steele-Pierce, PhD
Assistant Superintendent / West Clermont School District / Cincinnati OH

Thanks, Mitchell, for your comments about "right relationship." This topic is extremely timely for me. Just had a 90-minute meeting yesterday with admin and tech leaders from our district. Spirited (often heated) discussion. We came together to examine/discuss/create social media policy for the district. We have an AUP that clarifies legal responsibilities. However, it is the relationship part that we struggle with. We bring such a variety of perspectives. Because some misunderstand or have no schema for Web 2.0 or for networking, they see blocking everything as the answer. My next step is to provide a Web 2.0 overview for the team. I'm seeking resources for this. Any links, tools, resources would be helpful. Thanks, Eric, for moderating this group. Looking forward to learning here.

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