Is fear of abuse preventing you from using social media in your school? Are you unsure of what safeguards you can put in place to protect your pupils?
When social media was little more than a tool for socialising, schools could get away with avoiding it. Not any longer. Whether it’s buying a new product, doing business with someone, recruiting a member of staff, or learning a new skill, social media will usually play a part. In fact, social media has become a new form of literacy.
So how do you encourage social media without placing your school at risk?
Here are the steps your school should take before bringing social media into the classroom.
Social media is changing the communication landscape before our eyes. Now with 1:1 programs popping up all over, companies like Edmodo, Moodle, and Schoology are developing safe ways for teachers and students to communicate outside of the regularly scheduled class time. But even these online models base themselves off of Facebook.
Fear the Facebook!
The whole reason for educators to fear Facebook was because "it's unsafe and can't be monitored." Which is partially true, but wasn't convincing enough for me. Free websites like Edmodo, Moodle, and Schoology are great alternatives, because they operate on a more closed basis. However, I don't run my class like that. My class is open, ideas are shared, and if someone goes along the lines of inappropriate, then that's just another opportunity for me to teach.
Over the past few weeks I've been privileged to read so many great blog posts by fellow teachers on the numerous benefits of both tweeting and blogging. Having an online presence in order to collaborate and learn from others is now fast becoming one of the most popular and interesting ways to improve your day to day teaching. More and more teachers are getting involved in this online community, which means there are more and more opportunities to network with like-minded people.
My motivation to write this post was not to re-invent the wheel, but instead to bring together the best posts that have been written on this area. It should be seen as a one-stop guide for both teachers looking to dip their toe in the online teaching community, and also the more experienced 'Tweachers' amongst us.
In today’s teaching world, we are all expected to be “digital natives” and to use all the tools available to enhance teaching and learning. We look to use all sorts of devices to help us communicate, to make life simpler, to be more efficient. We don’t use diaries any more but link our calendar of meetings to our phones or to Outlook. We don’t really need to talk to each other because email, Facebook and Twitter obviate the need for oral communication. We are starting to live in worlds that are hermetically sealed, as our work and social activities become increasingly electronic.
There’s nothing startlingly new in the above paragraph; but with all these new technologies come serious implications for safeguarding. Alarmingly, some teachers are blithely unaware of, or choose to ignore, situations that could cause untold damage to their careers.
The use of social media in education continues to be something of a hot topic with arguments both for and against.
So I carried out a small survey of 27 teaching professionals in order to create a baseline of understanding into the use (or not) of social networking in schools, and also any concerns over some of the e-safety risks. The full survey results can be found here.
There are many uses of social media in education – below are just a few of the ways they can be effectively used.
After taking part in the online #pechat on Twitter this week - about the use of social media within physical education - it got me thinking about the use of it generally in education. There are pockets of good practice springing up all over the place, creating fast and effective communication with students, but in my opinion it is largely being held back by a stigma that social media is all bad news.
Let’s explore the myth that social media is bad news and creates problems for schools.
As the use of social media in education increases, so does the argument for and against. The purpose of this article is to try and take a balanced view of both sides of the coin and also to look at some of the reasons why schools won’t engage using social media. In order to achieve this, Matt Britland and Alan Mackenzie have collaborated, with Matt looking at the curriculum aspects, and Alan looking at any e-safety aspects.
The first step to understanding some of the issues was to create and Tweet out a link to a survey of 10 simple questions, the results of which were all saved to a Google Docs spreadsheet. Then, a further Google Doc was created to collaboratively write the article.
In April this year, the NUT warned teachers about the dangers of befriending pupils on social networking sites such as Facebook. The implications are so great that some schools have banned teachers from using Facebook altogether.
It's certainly true that Facebook can be a perilous place for teachers. Is it okay to accept a “friend request” from a pupil whom you know personally? What happens if you reject that friend request? Can you prevent pupils from viewing your pictures and wall posts? What should you do if a pupil posts a message on your wall? What happens if a pupil sees a comment you've made on someone else's wall?
I pride myself on my ability to think outside the box. Rather than going down the traditional route, I often think of more creative ways to teach lessons. Two years ago, I had a class of 34 children, 21 of whom were boys - who fidget. As a result of this, I decided to do a learning style questionnaire. The figures amazed me, as 60% of the class came up with a dominant kinaesthetic learning preference. The need for hands-on learning opportunities was immense. So, I collaborated with another Year 6 teacher and designed a unit about the Aztecs, as part of our creative curriculum. The only difference was that I used our school blog, which I oversaw, as the starting point for the unit.
I asked the children to come up with things that they wanted to learn about (not an original idea) and make them post information about it to the blog page as a link. They responded by finding out loads about the Aztecs (most of which seemed to centre around ritual sacrifice –boys- and chocolate – both boys and girls!).
Currently there is a gap between what students at the secondary and post-secondary levels are learning about human rights violations, and what is being done to stop them. Many humanities’ classes and curricula have genocide and human rights as a unit, but assess their students using traditional assessments.
In 2008-2009 a group of students in Mr. Juliani’s 10th Grade English class asked the question, “Why do we learn about all of this stuff (genocide and human rights violations), but never do anything about it?” This question sparked an idea and Project: Global Inform (PGI) was created. The students picked their own groups and researched current human rights violations. Each group picked a violation they felt particularly passionate about and began to develop an action plan. Their action plans allowed the students to judge how effective each method of media was at spreading information and creating awareness. At the end of Project: Global Inform’s first run, hundreds of people had been met face-to-face with information they did not know, while thousands of other teens and young adults saw videos, visited websites, and became Twitter and Facebook fans of media meant to create awareness.