Produced in collaboration with Facebook.
Social media is fast becoming as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. In recent months, many schools and districts around the country have taken steps to create social media policies and guidelines for their students and staff. In my work with several districts to draft these documents, I have seen many approaches that work well, and some that don't.
That said, there is no silver bullet for administrators; every school, district, and state has a different set of circumstances. With that in mind, here are some steps that will help you determine the best approach for your own community.
1. Examine Your School Culture
When setting out on this journey, it is important to understand the prevailing beliefs about social media in your community.
Questions for Reflection
- How are social media products currently being used by students? By teachers? By administrators and parents? How can they be leveraged for better communication?
- What are the fears around social media in school?
- Are there any "bright spots" where social media is already being used successfully?
Resources and Case Studies
- Social Media and Two-Way Communication (Connected Principals): Make the case for integrating social media into your school community.
- Web 2.0 as a Force for School Transformation: A Tale of Six Districts -- PDF Download (Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)): This executive summary can help you discover what other schools are doing.
- Is Social Media Right for Your District? (Sungard: K-12 Education Blog): This blog shares questions for educational leaders considering social media for their districts.
- How Schools Are Using Social Media -- Infographic (SocialTimes): Get statistics on classroom use and professional development.
- Schools Use Social Media to Communicate With Students, Parents (Tulsa World): A case study on how one district in Texas uses social media.
- Ten Ways Schools Are Using Social Media Effectively (eSchool News): Educators from across the country share how they use social media.
2. Organize a Team
This team should include educators who use social media in the classroom and those who do not. A district that I worked with recently chose to have a teacher and administrative representative from each grade level in the district, along with their heads of instruction and technology, school attorney, and two student representatives. You have to find a combination that works.
This team should be open and transparent in all their conversations and decision making, and be clear about their shared goal. Establish a website or webpage for the posting of notes, resources, and minutes from the meetings.
Questions for Reflection
- Does everyone on the team share the same goal?
- Is everyone committed to transparency?
- What is your time frame?
- Making the Case for Social Media in Schools (Edutopia): This blog shares specific reasons for using social media in schools.
- Social Media and Peer Learning (UC Berkeley School of Information): Howard Rheingold, a leading authority on the use of social media in schools, writes about why students should have access to these resources.
- Five Steps to Build a Social Media Team (Social Media Today): This site is for businesses, but the steps described here can help you create your school team.