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Should Teachers Use Social Media to Communicate with Students?

Posted by Lisa LaGrou July 18, 2012 Education

altFacebook and social media in general can be frightening when we think about how kids use or misuse it. Let’s face it; Facebook and social media is still in kind of the “Wild West” phase of how kids, parents and teachers deal with the new technology. We’re all relatively new to it and the social media problems are problems this generation is just starting to learn how to identify and cope with. Parents have the right to be concerned about potential dangers of how teens use Facebook and how teachers use Facebook.

 

We’ve all heard the stories. Teachers getting fired or disciplined for inappropriate contact with students on Facebook… Teachers using their Facebook accounts as pulpits to ridicule school administration or, even worse, their own students… Parents “friending” their child’s teacher just to keep tabs on them.. Parents using their facebook profiles to complain about their son or daughter’s teacher… The list goes on. You probably get my point by now. Parents have every right to be uneasy about social media when it comes to their kids.

Parenting fears of Facebook aside, there are so many responsible ways to use the technology. We know the dangers but what about the benefits if used properly? Steve Nicholls, author of the best-selling book “Social Media in Business,” (http://www.socialmediainbusiness.com/) argues that social media is far too important to ban its use in schools as it will be used in every facet of a person’s life. Nicholls has provided Oakland County Moms ways to establish effective use of social media for teachers, students and parents to maximize the benefits of facebook for education.

10 Ways Teachers Can Use Facebook to Maximize Learning and the Educational Benefits of Social Media:

  1. Bring in Experts: Schools should work with legal team on policy and social media experts to understand the benefits and risks of social media.
  2. Make a Clear Policy: Aimed at teachers, students and parents about what is and isn’t acceptable. Have written and oral presentations to explain policy and consequences.
  3. Highlight Past Transgressions: Make everyone aware of previous cases of misconduct which led to firing of teachers and expulsions of students. 
  4. Accountability: Remind teachers they will be held accountable for everything they write on social media sites.
  5. Create a Classroom Page: Teachers should consider establishing a separate classroom Facebook fan page that is safe and secure.
  6. Report immediately: Any inappropriate conduct from a teacher or student. 
  7. Remind Students of Proper Use: On school time social networking sites must not interfere with learning (i.e. video game playing).
  8. Assess Policy vs. Reality: Just because a policy is written does not mean it will be followed.  Many “unwritten” rules will take shape and the school must be vigilant and continuously reshape policy to match what is happening “on the ground”.
  9. Involve Parents and Local Community: Teachers should involve parents and local community so that the community can “police” proper conduct and be available to keep a watchful eye.
  10. Bring the Risks to Light: Children will use social media outside the classroom.  In the classroom is the perfect place to teach about the risks.  Just as they tell children not to get in a strangers car, they should talk about the dangers of online predators.  

About Steve Nicholls:
Steve Nicholls is the author of the best-selling book “Social Media in Business” (http://www.socialmediainbusiness.com/) and has implemented advanced Internet applications for leading organizations including British Telecom, Ciena Corp., Detathree, Inmarsat, John Laing and NSPCC, a UK Children’s charity organization, to name just a few. Steve grows client revenue dollars by millions with his effective social media training.

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