Social Media Policies
This week in my EdTech 543 Social Network Learning course, we were asked to explore social media policies in our school districts and around the country. I discovered that my school district does have a small social media policy. We have a policy that is broad and covers the acceptable use of internet, computers, devices, network resources, and web 2.0. I do believe our school district can update the policy as I see areas of opportunity for improvement. Reviewing multiple social media policies from area schools around the country, I found many districts have a well developed social media policy while others come across simplistic like my school districts’ social media policy.
Social media is here to stay whether or not our society is ready to fully embrace all of its potentials. The assignment was initially difficult for me to get excited about until I remembered an incident that occurred in Idaho back in 2013 to a Pocatello High School Female coach. A reference to this incident can be found HERE. The coach was fired for a photo that was posted on Facebook. The photo image initially upset some community members. Supporters and sympathizers of the coach advocated that the school board rehire the coach and create a social media policy for the school district. Eventually, she was rehired in January of 2014 and the school district decided to proceed with enacting a social media policy for educators and students.
Imaginary Elementary School Social Media Policy
Definition: Social Media- forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos). Merriam-Webster
Social Media Guidelines For Employees
“The line between professional and personal relationships can be blurred within a social media context. Employees should exercise good judgment and common sense while maintaining their professionalism as a district employee. (Bloomington)
Be Aware-Be aware of your audience and remember that what you believe to be private posts can instantly become public information. We at Imaginary Elementary school believe that administrators, educators, and staff need to act in a manner that not only represents themselves but the image of the school. Remember, integrity matters. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching!
Be Professional- Do not accept “friend” requests from students or request to add students as “friends.” Employees need to maintain professional communication in all forms; email, websites, blogs, images, videos, and word. Employees will refrain from using profanity and vulgar language on any social media websites. Employees must be respectful and professional in all communications (by word, image or other means). Employees shall not use obscene, profane or vulgar language on any social media network or engage in communication that is considered harassing, bullying, libelous, or defamatory. Employees will not encourage the use of illegal drugs, sexual harassment, bullying, sexual behavior, inappropriate use of alcoholic beverages, and any other illegal activity not listed. (Minnetonka Public Schools)
Be Safe:-Do not share your private information online in public forums to protect yourself from identity fraud. Use privacy settings provided by social media sites.
Be a Role-model- Ask yourself if you are adding value and are demonstrating leadership online? It is vital that all staff remember that people are watching and judging what you say or do on-line.
Communicate Effectively with parents and students using official school email and software applications. Do not use your personal email or devices to communicate with parents or students. Glenbrook High School suggests, “Use school or district provided resources to communicate school related issues. School employees are to utilize district-provided social media and technologies for school-related purposes.” (Glenbrook High School)
Social Media Use For Students
Be Responsible- Do not give out your personal information online to strangers and always ask your teacher for help if needed. When in doubt, ask for help! Do not friend people you do not know or at least get permission from your parents first. Follow the school district rules regarding the acceptable use of internet and technology.
Be Respectful- Be respectful to yourself and your classmates in your school and around the world. Do not bully or use unkind words towards others while using social media.
Have Fun- Embrace social media and enjoy exploring the world around you at your fingertips. Just be cautious of what you say or do while using social media.
Protect Your Digital Footprint- Remember to THINK before you post?
Social Media Policies Reviewed
Adopting Social Media Policy Steps
I would use these suggested steps to ensure appropriate feedback from stakeholders. One of the first steps for administrators and school professionals can do is examine their school culture?
Administrators and staff can ask these questions: “How are social media products currently being used by students? By teachers? By administrators and parents? How can they be leveraged for better communication? What are the fears around social media in school? Are there any “bright spots” where social media is already being used successfully?” (Edutopia)
The second step is to organize a team.
The third step is to conduct research.
The fourth step is to draft social media document and submit for comment or feedback.
The fifth step is to ensure appropriate school district personnel review the draft, ie school district attorney and school board as examples.
The sixth step is to present to your school community.
The seventh step is to periodically review and update social media policy as needed.
Definition of SOCIAL MEDIA. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social+media