How can and should schools use social media?

Currently, the only social media site I use in my classroom is Twitter, and I have to admit that I don’t use that very often.  I have tried to find some new ways of using it the last year or two though. One way I have incorporated Twitter was to post different handles onto my class webpage as widgets.  In this way, every time a student visits my webpage, they can see a live Twitter feed running at the top of the page. I have weather feeds for my weather unit, geology feeds for my geology unit, and so on.  I have tried to find some feeds that provide interesting posts and reliable information for my students to check out. So far, I have had a lot of positive feedback from the students. Many of them seem to enjoy looking through the feeds when they have some free time in class.  They like that they are able to explore on their own and check out what interests them without direction from me. Besides these widgets, I don’t really use Twitter in my class very often. I would like to start using it more, I just need to find the time to explore it more myself and figure out where it will fit into my class.

My school’s policy on inappropriate technology use generally covers the types of things you’d see in any acceptable use policy.  It basically boils down to students being responsible and respectful, not sharing private information, and not destroying any hardware.  Failure to follow these guidelines results in disciplinary action that ranges from technology privileges being revoked to expulsion and arrest.  I believe though, that in today’s society, my school needs to have a more detailed policy on cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is quickly becoming one of the biggest problems schools face today.  With all the technology students have access to both at school and at home, it is all too easy for them to abuse it and harm other students. I would like to see my school update their acceptable technology use contract to include more topics related to cyberbullying and abuse.  I believe having students involved in this process would be extremely beneficial to the students themselves, the school staff, and the community as a whole. When students are included in the decision making process, they feel invested and more likely to buy in to the idea of using technology appropriately.  When they are left out of the process, they are more likely to disregard rules and regulations.

As I’ve mentioned above, I believe that cyberbullying is a huge problem in today’s schools.  It is extremely important that school staff learn to recognize signs that cyberbullying is taking place.  One way that I believe is helpful for staff members to learn more about cyberbullying and how to deal with it is to undergo training on the subject.  The training can be done in various ways, but I think one of the more convenient ways is to use an online training program. My school currently uses the Global Compliance Network (GCN) for online training in many areas such as bloodborne pathogens and diabetes awareness.  It would be fairly simple to add cyberbullying to the list of trainings staff members must complete. Completing a program like this would go a long way towards helping teachers and staff learn to recognize signs of cyberbullying in the school and provide strategies to deal with it.


One thought on “How can and should schools use social media?”

  1. Adam,

    I like your idea of using widgets to provide students with additional resources. This gives them so many more feeds to sift through without having to gather the resources yourself. I also think that my school could improve our policy by adding specifics when it comes to cyberbullying. While most students have an idea of what it entails, I think there is a gray area for them when it comes to knowing which comments, pictures, or posts are considered cyberbullying. I also think it would be helpful to include specifics so that students know what to do if they see another student being cyberbullied.


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