While many teachers still choose to keep their head in the sand, the fact is that Social Media is in our schools. Moreover, that’s where it should be. There is no doubt that dealing with social media in a school setting is tricky business. Fears about students safety, cyber-bullying, reputation management, distraction in school and the like are real issues that should be addressed by school communities. More and more, this is being handled by the development of a Social Media Policy for the school or school district. This is an important part of creating a culture where students learn to use social media,, something they are already doing in the personal lives, in the space they spend so much of their time. By taking the approach of creating a policy that cultivates an understanding of the proper use of social media, schools not only protect themselves and their students, they also help students learn to better use such technology.
The following was developed as a guideline for developing such a social media policy in a school. The original document can be found here.
Plan for Development of a Social Media Policy for Holmquist School
With the ever increasing presence of Social Media in the world of our students, it is important that the school take time to reflect upon what it deems to be “appropriate use” of social media in the school setting. While it is important to ensure the safety of our students, it is equally important to help students develop skills for using social media and a sense of how to manage their online world. To that end, this plan was developed as a guideline for developing a Social media policy that effectively meets the needs of our school.
Take a Social Media Inventory
Before developing a policy, it is important to first have an understanding of a great many factors. The following topic/areas should be included in a questionnaire that may be shared with teachers, administrators, students and parents. Gaining an understanding of the current use and impact of social media on the school is essential to craft an appropriate policy.
- Definition of “Social Media”
- Current Use
- Administration/School Communication
- Student Use (Academic and Non-Academic)
- Examples of Good Use
- Concerns related to Social Media Use
Form a Social Media Policy Committee
A committee of representatives from each of the main areas of the school (teachers, administrators, students and parents) should be assembled with the purpose of working through the answers to the questionnaire and crafting the policy. It is important to include those who are technology literate and those who are a bit more dubious of technology. Having the spectrum of attitudes represented on the committee will help to build a policy that makes sense to all members ofthe community.
Research Existing Policies
While the goal of this process is to develop a policy that is crafted specifically for our school, the committee should certainly utilize existing policies to develop an understanding of what areas should be covered in such a policy and how schools similar to ours approach social media in their school. Individuals with their own learning networks via Social Media may also reach out to find guidelines and ideas. The following are areas that may be included:
- Type of Usage
- Web Access
- Collaboration, Web 2.0 and Academic Policies
- Personal Device Useage
- Online Behavior and Etiquette
- Personal Safety and Cyberbullying
Write a Draft of the Social Media Policy
With an understanding of the school’s current use of social media and policies of similar schools, the committee should turn their attention to crafting their own policy. Once completed, this draft should be presented to some constituent groups within the school community (students, teachers, parents), school administrators, the school board and, if deemed necessary by the administration, the school’s attorney. It is important to emphasize that this is a draft of the policy to reduce confusion and to open the way for feedback from those reviewing it. Edits may be made based on the feedback received.
A policy may include the following sections (as needed):
- Rationale for Policy Development
- Policy Guidelines (broken into sections)
- Help/Questions Contact Information
- Signature of Student and/or Parent
Introduction of the Social Media Policy to the School Community
Once reviewed and edited, the policy should be presented to the school community. The members of the committee should play a central role in explaining the policy and answering any questions that may arise. This could/should include:
- Introduction to faculty
- Introduction to student body
- Introduction to parents
- Posting of policy in accessible space
Review the Policy
As social media changes, policies may become somewhat outdated. Regularly scheduled reviews of the policy should be scheduled to be sure it is up to date and still meets all the needs of the school community.
Anderson, S. (2012). How to create social media guidelines for your school. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-create-social-media-guidelines-school
Dunn, J. (2012). It’s time to crowdsource your school’s social media policy. Edudemic. Retrieved from http://edudemic.com/2012/05/social-media-policy-crowdsource/
Johnson, S. (2010). How we used twitter to create our school’s social media guidelines. Ed Social Media. Retreived from: http://www.edsocialmedia.com/2010/08/how-we-used-twitter-to-create-our-schools-social-media-guidelines/
Schultz, J. (2012). Should we fear children accessing facebook? DMLcentral. Retrieved from: http://dmlcentral.net/blog/jason-schultz/should-we-fear-children-accessing-facebook
Smith, L. (2012). Creating social media policies for school educators- a wise step for a better future. Solutions for Schools. Retrieved from http://solutions-for-schools.com/creating-social-media-policies-for-school-educators-a-wise-step-for-a-better-future/