It is important to be able to keep track of all of your accounts and groups. If you don’t, there is a danger of it becoming a free-for-all with different staff members setting up groups or accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. I find it easier to keep track of all this activity online using Google Apps, which also lets me share documents with other teachers who can amend certain details if necessary.
If you are leading the social media initiative I would advise you to be a member of all groups or follow all Twitter feeds. You can then help to moderate their use and give teachers advice when they need it, in addition to drawing up a list of rules and guidelines that staff members should follow.
Before implementing social media in your school, give all students digital citizenship lessons, including training in e-safety. During online safety lessons, I like to actually go through Facebook’s privacy settings with my students, rather than just speaking about them.
My preferred model is to dedicate time in ICT lessons for this, although some schools do this in PSHE. This is fine as long as those teaching it are fully trained, and preferably users of social
Training teachers in how to use social media, as well as how they can protect their profile, is also important. They need to be confident users if they are to buy into the idea of using it in their school. Finally, get the parents involved. Run an information evening and show them what young people use the internet for and let them know how you are educating their children to use the internet safely and productively.
Social media can be used for extra curricular clubs, trips, marketing and communication, but it is also a powerful tool for teaching and learning. It could be used simply as a means of broadcasting information quickly to your students. Taking it a step further, you could make it mandatory to contribute to Facebook groups for a project in order to guarantee collaboration and online discussion. Students could share links, videos, audio and their work with their group via social media - it could even be part of their homework.
If you intend to share information using social media, make sure you do not abandon it. If you stop using it or rarely update it, your students may lose interest. However, don’t overload students with information, as they will struggle to keep up or just decide to ignore what you are posting. Finally, everything you share should be relevant to the course or project.
After a set period of time, it is important to evaluate the initiative. Both students and teachers need to be asked in order to get an accurate and balanced perspective of how well your aims and objectives have been met. The best route for me was to create a form using Google Apps, which was then emailed to everyone involved.
Once you have done this, you will be able to judge whether social media is a successful and worthwhile learning tool for your school. It will then be useful to come up with a list of recommendations and compile a report on your findings.