Category Archives: 3.4 Policies and Regulations

Ed Tech 543- Development of a Social Media Policy

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
    • Teachers/Classes
    • 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
  • Security
  • Downloads
  • 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):


  • Introduction
  • 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.

Resources Used:

Anderson, S. (2012). How to create social media guidelines for your school. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Dunn, J. (2012). It’s time to crowdsource your school’s social media policy. Edudemic. Retrieved from

Johnson, S. (2010). How we used twitter to create our school’s social media guidelines. Ed Social Media. Retreived from:

Schultz, J. (2012). Should we fear children accessing facebook? DMLcentral. Retrieved from:

Smith, L.  (2012). Creating social media policies for school educators- a wise step for a better future. Solutions for Schools. Retrieved from


Internet Safety for Students

The following post is a guide to internet safety for students in high school.  It was completed as part of work in Boise State Ed Tech 541.

As young adults in a connected world, you likely spend a fair amount of time online.  Whether you are gaming, connecting with friends or doing research for school, there are some things that you must keep in mind to develop a safe and healthy online presence.  Much of the advice boils down to common sense, but there can be aspects of working and living online that are trickier to pick up on.  As you work your way through cyberspace, keep the following in mind:

  1. Be Respectful– Always be respectful of the people you are talking to and talking about online.  Because online work creates a sense of distance and anonymity, many people say things they would not normally say to someone in a face-to-face situation.  When working online, what you write and what you post will likely be permanently out there for all to see (even if you delete it!)  Be smart and show the world you best side.  Also, refrain from tagging friends in pictures.  Let them make that decision on their own.
  2. Be Safe– As most people know, there are many dangers out in the cyberworld.  While making connections with people can be very rewarding and helpful, never give out personal information.  Using your first name only (or include last initial if you have to), keeping locations and addresses to yourself and not sharing other personal details are all great ways to stay safe.
  3. Be Smart– As you search for content on the internet, you will very likely come across information from questionable sources.  Now that anyone connected to the internet can share their opinions, it can be difficult to determine what is fact and what is opinion (or fiction).  Always ask yourself “who posted this?” and “why did they post it?”  Being aware of your virtual surroundings is an important skill to develop in this modern world.
  4. Be Careful– While much of what you do on the internet poses little danger, you have to be aware that there are very real dangers.  Emails and other downloads can contain viruses and other malware that can harm your computer or send out personal information.  Never open emails from unknown senders.  Delete them immediately.
  5. Set Limits– As young adults, you are gaining more and more independence.  With this independence comes the need to set limits for yourselves.  Just like overindulging in food can have negative consequences, overindulging in time online has potential negative impacts as well.  Set limits for both work and social time online.  Take the time to meet friends in person, not just online.

For more information on Internet Safety, visit the following sites:


Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Internet safety tips for middle school kids. Retrieved July 15, 2012, from

Common Sense Media. (2012, June 19). Parents’ Guide to Protecting Kids’ Privacy Online. Retrieved July 14, 2012, from

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2012, July 12). Netsmartz Workshop:  Safety.  Retrieved from

Walled Gardens Voicethread Post

Voicethread on Walled Gardens

This post is a Voicethread completed as part of work in Ed Tech 541.  The topic is on the opening of so-called “walled gardens” in school settings.  (I attempted to embed the voicethread, but had no luck.  Sorry about that.)

Acceptable Use Policies

While many in the education world debate how large of a role technology, specifically the internet, should play in the education of today’s students, few argue that connection to the world at large should be eliminated.  The fact that we now are encouraging and even teaching our students to access and leverage information on the Internet for their personal learning, mean that we must also take the time to create safeguards for the students and for the educational institutions providing the access. The standard method of accomplishing the latter is for the institution to develop an Acceptable Use Policy or AUP.

Not every AUP is identical.  Lisa Nielsen encourages schools to create AUP’s that take into account and address each communities needs by encouraging input from all users of the technology.  On the other hand, many schools and school districts put such decisions and policy making in the hands of lawyers and those less involved in the on the ground use of the technology.

Whatever the method of arriving at a school’s AUP, Education World encourages schools to include the following aspects in an AUP:

  1. Preamble- Sets the tone for the AUP and establishes the purpose, process of development and the goals of the AUP.
  2. Definitions- Helps create clarity by defining any specific terms that have the potential for creating misunderstanding.
  3. Policy Statement- Provides an overview of what the AUP covers and the services that fall under it’s policies.
  4. Acceptable Use Section- Outlines what the institution deems appropriate and acceptable  in terms of student and employee use of school networks.
  5. Unacceptable Use Section- Delineates what students uses are not appropriate for use on school networks and provides examples of such uses.
  6. Violations/Sanctions Section- Describes the outcomes of unacceptable use of the computer network.  Outcomes may be specific or simply refer violations to other school disciplinary systems.

While this set of guidelines are a great start in terms of establishing an AUP, care must be taken to provide each educational community with a set of rules that protect the students and the school and encourage appropriate use.  It is important to listen to the stakeholders and to adapt the policy over time as needed.  While they may not be integral to drafting such a document, getting feedback from school attorneys on the document is a key step.  Once established, introducing the policy to the school community should be done in a thoughtful manner.

Below are examples of Acceptable Use Policies from a variety of educational institutions


EducationWorld. (2011).  Getting Started on the Internet:  Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP).  Retrieved from

Edutopia. (2012). How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School. Retrieved from

The Innovative Educator. (2012). Looking to createa  social media or BYOD policy? Look no further. Retrieved from

Plagiarism Video

The following video was created using GoAnimate and was created to outline some of the forms of plagiarism students may intentionally or unintentionally commit.  My hope was to add a bit of humor so that students would find the video interesting enough to watch. Presidential Plagiarism by joncfreer

It is also worth noting that I found the process of making the very simple video fun and also found that the forms of plagiarism became fairly ingrained in me while making the video.  Certainly this form of project making would be a great one to use with students in just about every subject.