Sponsored by Facebook I did some work recently for the EUN where we looked at the role of Social Media in Learning and Education (SMILE). One of the outputs of my contribution to the project was a professional development eLearning course for European Teachers and Head Teachers on the use of Social Media in Schools.
As this part of the course has now finished (and we have gone into the community development phase) I am re-posting a version of the materials here so others can benefit from them.
This is part 6 of 6 - Social media policy and the challenges of social media adoption in schools?
Social media policy and the challenges of social media adoption in schools?: The Video
Internet Safety and Responsible Use Social media policy and the challenges of social media adoption in schools? The Course Notes and Links
The important thing to remember about social media policies is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write one. Your social media policy needs to reflect your organisation, who you wish to communicate with and what you feel comfortable doing.
You should also consider if you actually need a social media policy in the first place. Rather than a separate policy that silos social media as an ‘add on’ strategy it might be better just to include social media in some of your other school / institution policies and procedures. For example, social media and social networking should be mentioned and included in your school ICT Policy, your school Learning & Teaching Policy and your school ICT Policy.
If you do decide to create your own stand alone policy then the following list of things / rules to include will help you make a good start.
1. Introduce the purpose of social media
2. Be responsible for what you write
3. Be authentic
4. Consider your audience
5. Exercise good judgment
6. Understand the concept of community
7. Respect copyrights and fair use
8. Remember to protect confidential
9. Bring value
10. Productivity matters
The above list was first published on the Mashable Website and is designed for enterprise. But we can apply much of what is in the list to education.
Mashable.com is also a great website to subscribe to in your RSS Reader because its news items will keep you up-to-date with the latest social media tools and trends.
One country that is very progressive in the development of Social Media Policies is Australia, in particular Victoria. They have provided some good social media guidance on their website but have also produced a nice little YouTube Clip on Social Media Policy that gives examples of what is and isn’t acceptable.
One challenge that you will come up against what trying to adopt social media in your school or institution will be opinion. It seems that everyone has an opinion when it comes to social media and some of these opinions are more positive than others.
The key here is good communication. It doesn’t really matter how you communicate with stakeholders (letter, email, Facebook) but you need to make sure that everyone in your learning community knows that you are going to be trying something new. People are often anxious about change and this includes changing of practice due to technology adoption.
Where possible capitalise on good news stories about the positive use of social media in school and education and piggyback off the back of these stories to explain why social media adoption is the right thing to do for your institution.
Information evenings for parents on new practice, curriculum change and Internet Safety & Responsible Use can also be helpful to keep parents up-to-date and informed.
3. Technical Challenge
Social Media adoption is also likely to present a number of technical challenges. A good relationship between school management, teachers and corporate ICT Departments is really important here.
The key message is that ‘locking and blocking’ does not solve the problem of irresponsible Social Media use. It just hides the problem where the consequences are potentially a lot worse.
There are ways that educators can get around some of the technical challenges of social media being blocked in schools to demonstrate responsible behaviour and appropriate privacy settings. These ways include the use of a mobile phone to create a wifi hot spot that is not affected by filtering or the use of screen capture software (such as Jing) to record social media use outside of the school.
The Cloud Learn Research Report from Heppell.net and the Nominet Trust provides a good insight to how schools can work with corporate ICT departments to deliver the best possible outcomes for learners.
The biggest challenge that you will have when it comes to Social Media Adoption in Schools will be cultural challenges. Changing the culture of any organisation is hard and schools and other education institutions are no exception to this.
When trying to introduce change into any organisation you need to make sure that you take people (employees) with you.
If you are serious about introducing Social Media into your school you need to win the hearts and minds of school staff. The only way that you will do this is if you can demonstrate impact and give clear and concise reasons about why you are keen to adopt social media. The reasons for Social Media adoption are to improve school communication with stakeholders, to enhance learning in teaching that leads to improved motivation and increased attainment and to develop virtual CPD opportunities.
One staged model to help with social media adoption in you school or other education institute might be:
i) Agree a shared vision and purpose of why you want to adopt social media in your school. Make sure that everyone is speaking the same language and you have a localised definition of what your school thinks social media is and the benefits it can bring. Some of these ideas were covered in the SMILE Blog Post (unit) #1.
ii) Start with the use of social media at whole school level. This includes your school website and other things that we discussed during SMILE Blog Post (unit) #2. This will get your school recognised as being forward thinking but also send clear messages to staff that the use of social media is acceptable.
iii) Once staff have started to accept social media, focus on how social media can be used to enhance learning and teaching. We covered some of these ideas in SMILE Blog Post (unit) #3. Remember do not focus on the tool but what the tool can do if it is used in the right way to improve the classroom experience.
iv) When Social Media is being more widely used to enhance learning and teaching encourage staff to consider using social media tools for professional development. Using social media in this way can help link staff by professional interest. SMILE Blog Post (unit) #4.
v) Throughout the process emphasis to all members of the school community that Internet Safety and Responsible Use and providing advice on the safe use of social media must be the responsibility of all staff. We covered a number of strategies for this during SMILE Blog Post (unit) #5.
The above stepped model is useful as it takes staff on a journey of engagement from information sharing to empowering. It also means that you can introduce different aspects of social media adoption as people become comfortable with the tools and the terminology rather than providing all the information and resources at once.
Links for you to explore and reflect on:
- Mashable: Social Media News - http://mashable.com
- Ten Must Haves for your Social Media Policy - http://goo.gl/u9iY
- Department of Justice, Victoria, Australia: Social Media Policy for Employees - http://goo.gl/fQCV4
- Social Media Policy Video (YouTube) - http://goo.gl/f51g2
- School Social Media Policies - http://goo.gl/3PDWe
- Cloud Learn: the end of locking and blocking - http://goo.gl/GKHy4