George Lucas Educational Foundation

How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School - Introduction to the School Community

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

Produced in collaboration with Facebook.

6. Introduction to the School Community

Now that all stakeholders have signed off on your policy or guidelines, it's time to roll it out to your greater community. Every member of your team should be tasked with talking to specific groups and/or schools. Take the time to educate your students, faculty, staff, parents, and community about what the document means to them. If you have been open and transparent from the beginning, this will be an easy step.

Questions for Reflection
  • How will you introduce the policy or guidelines to your community? Will you hold meetings at all schools? Send emails?
  • Do any major themes emerge in your community's feedback?
  • What will you do if the guidelines are not well received?

7. Review Periodically

Your new policy or guidelines should be a living document and should be revisited often. Social media products change. Your culture will change. Policies will change. Your team needs to look at your document at least annually to determine whether it is working and whether any adjustments need to be made.


The following are some resources on establishing social media policy and/or guidelines.

Lastly, here's my Diigo collection of over 80 articles, blog posts, and resources on social media in education. Good luck! It can be a difficult journey, but it's well worth it.

STEVEN ANDERSON (@web20classroom on Twitter) is a district instructional technologist/independent educational consultant with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in Winston-Salem, NC. He also has a blog and travels nationally to speak about the use of social media in the classroom.

Comments (1) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Julia Hengstler's picture

Thanks for providing some very important scaffolding here, Steven. Wow, did you do a pile of work and provide a great collection of resources. I would add a couple of resources & ideas to your collection here:

One of THE best resources I have seen re. social media & other technology policies for educators and schools are those provided by Kent County Counci (KCC). I absolutely urge all your readers to visit their site and see their content at "Trust Web"--some of my favourites as regard social media are "Safer Practices with Technology", their "Response to an Incident of Concern", and "Using Social Media". See
They even have an e-safety policy generator & other great resources here
In my review of what's out there, I find KCC's content to be a very mature set of policies and practises that I have not really seen anywhere else in North America--US or Canada.

Another thing I love about their model--how they got to such a mature & comprehensive response-- is that it's a wrap-around--involving families, police, child & health care workers, etc. There is a core body of volunteers with varying perspectives. I think we need to move to more comprehensive models that see the job of education--in this case using technology in education and educating to use technology-- as embedded & involving the larger societal context. Rebecca Avery is their e-Safety Officer (@esafety_officer on twitter), and more than willing to chat. I'm hoping to bring her to BC, Canada to work with our schools--if I can find a way to manage it. ;-) If you can manage to cook something up with them--keep me posted. I think community should be involved earlier in the process--after all we're working with their children.
I also think that some type of "educational" component should be created for parents/guardians/families--who even if they use social media may not be modeling good practise at home.

Another great resource is Williamson & Johnson's brand new book (2012), School Leaders' Guide to Social Media from Eye on Education--very forward thinking. I'm still working through the book and my 1 criticism to date is re. their e-safety chapter re. social media that seems to focus on the dangers--I'd like to see more of a "preventative"--risk management subtext here than a "dangers of social media" subtext. (Note: I'm still reading--taking my time and reading closely.)

I challenge people working on policy to abandon the "technology is dangerous & that's why we have to do this" subtext in policy documents & transition to explicitly acknowledging the benefits/opportunities/affordances of technology being the driver for making space for social media (or other technologies)--and that policy/guidelines/practices are ways to make risks manageable & reasonable in the balance of benefit offered for learning/teaching. (KCC is quite explicit on this in their "Using Social Media" handbook.)

I can't say strongly enough, EVERY plan should have something similar to KCC's Response to an Incident of Concern--even if you don't have a school based "e-safety officer", the process of flow re. what to do, who does it, who it gets reported to, etc.--and even a templated letter at the ready--is a MUST. This involves more than legal council--it involves child support services/health care, family input, police input, etc. It also involves that EVERYONE knows what's supposed to happen. While I'm all for prevention, a response plan must be ther and functional.

I think I would propose that the lawyers/legal logistics are contemplated a bit earlier-- before work goes forward on forming policies/practices. I know that in our context, BC made some recent changes to privacy laws that directly & greatly impact how public bodies--including schools--need to deal with personal data & where it's stored. This would include student profiles on cloud-based storage, social networking, etc. I think it helps to know some of the "non-negotiables" that set boundaries for a policy.

Another really important aspect, I think, is where teachers/administrators are using social media with no coverage re. policy, procedures, etc.--especially in situations where these technologies are informally or formally banned. I refer to this as 'going rogue'. Some educators are doing it with the best intentions--but they and their students are vulnerable. I would urge schools/districts to coax the 'rogue practitioners' from the weeds by developing some kind of "pilot project" or "permission slip" scaffolding while the school/district works out the details. That will depend on the school culture--where trust is high, coaxing the rogues from the weeds should be relatively easy; but where trust is low, it can be very problematic.

Lastly, while making policies and rules are great, in the long run they are peripheral in an approach that sets key digital citizenship values at the core--for teachers/admin that's digital citizenship + digital professionalism. Rules and policies should be manifestations of core values. I think that those need to be identified first--and be aligned with the school vision, student handbook, etc. so consistent messages are sent through these multiple channels. Students might find, for example, 'This is just one more environment in which I need to demonstrate respect & in this environment it looks like xxxx."

Thank you so much, Steven. You have done a great deal over the years to move web 2.0, social media, and technology integration forward--and this piece is another great example.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.