George Lucas Educational Foundation

Social Media in Schools

Social Media in Schools

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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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Jasna Aliefendic's picture
Jasna Aliefendic
Technology Facilitator & Adjunct Professor

Our district just started with a pilot of an "approved" blogging solution for the district. It is going quite well so far. We also allow the upload of teacher or student created podcast/vodcast to their campus website. Many of our administrators use this type of media to deliver messages to parents, students, staff and community.

The fear of unknown, caused by the lack of knowledge, is often the main reason school districts block anything related to web 2.0. I applaud your intention Ms. Steele-Pierce to educate your coworkers about Web 2.0 applications and their potential in education. Our digital natives deserve the opportunity to communicate in schools using the only way of communication they feel comfortable with.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

I just came across this via Twitter myself and thought it was great.

Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) just created The Administrator's Technology Toolkit, which shows admins how they can integrate simple, easy to use tools like Twitter, Google Docs, Social Bookmarking, Google Reader, and Ning into what they do daily.

Check it out.

Michael Simkins's picture

It's exciting to see a number of people participating in this discussion. At TICAL, we're very interested in this topic. About a year ago, we started an on-going survey to get administrators' opinions about using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom—value, obstacles, ways to overcome obstacles, etc. I invite you take take the survey yourself and add your own perspective. It's short and easy. Here's a link.

bbettger's picture
Director of Technology, Anaheim City School District

I enjoyed reading your Top 5 tools. We've been teaching administrators in our district and your list is the same as ours. It's nice to be affirmed.

Eric Sheninger's picture
Eric Sheninger
Senior Fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education

One of the best ways I have found to successfully intergrate technology in my school is to share success stories through the media (newspaper, radio, television). Here are some examples:

Radio: 1010WINS

Television: CBS NYC

Newspaper: The Record

Sue Densmore's picture
Sue Densmore
High School Music Teacher from Byfield, MA

I am so glad people are talking about this.

We have no social media policy in my district. Due to the fact that we receive state aid, we are required to have pretty strict filtering for students, and so social media sites are blocked for them.

Teachers, however, can access Facebook, Twitter, and such, and our tech people have even allowed my to download TweetDeck, from which I can manage not just my own twitter (@suedensmore), but the ones I have set up for my performing groups and parents. The latter are mostly broadcast at the moment.

Some teachers choose to be "Facebook Friends" with students, and some do not. I recently unfriended all of my current students, but I do have a FB group (Triton Arts) which is public, and through which I can communicate. Gradually, I expect I'll open access to the wall and photo posting.

I see so many ways in which social media could be used in the classroom very appropriately that it is driving me a little insane that so many people dismiss it out of hand as a waste. I commend all you administrators out there for tackling the issue!

John McMillen's picture
John McMillen
Chief Information Officer / Graves County (KY) Schools

I have always wondered why we must create a new policy for everything that comes along. I support and encourage the use of social media in the classroom but I feel that a technology policy should be general and all encompassing while being simple and effective.

Charlie's picture

I think educators have to be smart about what social media tools they use to connect to students. I think they're a great way to strengthen the student-teacher relationship, but doing so using personal accounts (e.g., Facebook) on social networking sites is something school administrators should prohibit. I just read an interesting article on this Internet safety site, which talked about the whole issue on "friending" students on personal platforms. You can read it here -

Charlie's picture

I think schools should be careful about what social media sites teachers can use to interact with students. Facebook, MySpace and personal Twitter sites should all be disallowed. I wouldn't be comfortable having my 16-year-old daughter engaging with her teachers on Facebook. I read an interesting article the other day on an Internet safety site that discusses the issue of whether parents and students can "friend" each other on these more personal platforms. You can read about it here - Even if teachers sent out a notice to parents that they'd be engaging with my daughter via Facebook or Twitter for whatever purpose, if they are using their personal account, I would just not be comfortable with it.

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture

Great discussion!

We published an article a few years ago on how to use social media in the classroom. The landscape obviously changes very quickly, but I think there are still some great and straightforward hints in it. Check it out.

There's also an accompanying feature article about Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy and principal Chris Lehmann, who is very forward-thinking in his approach to using social media in his school.

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