Even though we have talked about the importance of teaching students to be careful with their social media use, my district has no social media policies except one that is listed under unacceptable uses in our Acceptable Use Policy: Using the District Network, which includes applications like Google Apps, for personal communications and social networking. This is number three in a list of 10 unacceptable uses. Because of this, I have chosen to revamp the policy with the terms I would like to see included. Then, I will have to become more proactive than simply speaking up in our tech team meetings. If we are truly going to prepare students for the world outside of school, then we need to arm them with social media skills that will benefit them, not just put our heads in the sand and ignore the fact that our students are using social media.
Here is my district’s Acceptable Use Policy, and here is our Bring Your Own Device Policy. Finally, here is our staff Acceptable Use Policy.
Here are my proposals for social media to be included in the student Acceptable Use Policy in lieu of the statement that using district accounts for social networking is an unacceptable use. In a previous class, I had the chance to study the NYC’s Department of Education’s Social Media policy. I was impressed by their approach then, and I have drawn largely from their policy
SOCIAL MEDIA USE ADDENDUM TO SNOWLINE JUSD’S ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY
Social Media Definition
Social Media is any online publication, or presence, that allow interactive communication between users, including blogs, social networks, photo sharing sites, curation sites, website, forums, and wikis. Some platforms include Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Edmodo, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, etc.
Create a Positive Online Reputation
1. Align your online image with your goals.
- Think before you post, share, or comment. Once you post something, there is a permanent digital record of it, even if you delete it. Before you post, decide how your post would come across to family members, friends, colleges, and future employers.
- Begin to create a reputation for yourself. For example, comment thoughtfully and knowledgeably on articles. Or, share inspiration memes with your own commentary.
2. Take responsibility for your posts.
- Create an appropriate user name that reflects who you are.
- Use your account, not a fake account for all online interactions. If you are going to engage in online interactions, you need to be accountable for your words. Remember that fake accounts can be traced back to their creators.
3. Assume that everything you post online is open to the general public.
- It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are, anyone can take a screenshot of your post, or share it. Any information or images you share online are accessible to the public. You lose control once you post, so be sure that what you post is something you wouldn’t mind everyone seeing.
4. Ask your parents, or teachers, what is appropriate to share.
- While you are a minor, your parents are ultimately responsible for you. They should have a good idea of what information to keep private for your safety or simply for good sense. Ask them before posting, especially if you are not sure how the post will affect your reputation.
- If posting at school, ask your teacher what is appropriate to share.
5. When using social media for school, behave as you would in school.
- Treat your classmates, and their ideas, with respect.
- If you wouldn’t say something in person, don’t say it online.
6. Don’t tag without permission.
- Tagging posts, people, or photos, opens them up to a broader audience. Respect your classmates’ privacy and don’t tag them in school related posts. You don’t know who you could endanger.
- Ask friends before posting photos of them, or before tagging them, in non-school related posts. They should be allowed to control their online reputation, not you.
7. Protect yourself from predators and other ill-intentioned people.
- Only accept friend requests from people you actually know, and check before accepting requests from someone with whom you are already friends. There are people who clone or hack people’s accounts with the intention of imitating them online so they can take advantage of people.
- Never share personal information like your address, phone number, or school.
- Do not share your current location (by “checking in”) and be sure location is turned off before taking photos that you will share online. You don’t want to give someone the exact GPS location of your bedroom.
8. Protect Passwords
- Do not share any of your passwords with friends, family, etc.
- Create appropriate passwords (that are complex and can’t be easily guessed/hacked), and if you must write them down, keep them in a secure place.
Consider the Consequences of Your Online Interactions
9. Remember that your online interactions, even if you only participate from home, can have consequences at school.
- If your posts, emails, comments, etc. could be considered bullying, threatening, or disruptive at school, then you will face consequences at school. Be sure to keep your online interactions with fellow students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff positive and appropriate.
10. Report inappropriate online interactions to the proper authorities.
- Inappropriate interactions include, but are not limited to:
- Offensive text messages or emails.
- Posting or sharing untrue statements that create rumors.
- Sharing embarrassing images of classmates.
- Sharing images that could be considered pornographic.
11. Take appropriate steps if you witness inappropriate posts, etc.
- Do not retaliate.
- “Unfriend”, block, or remove who post, share, or send inappropriate content.
- Save messages, posts, etc. that could provide evidence of inappropriate online interactions so that the proper authorities can deal with the behavior.
Plans for Sharing and Receiving Feedback
Because my district currently blocks almost all social media use on our network, and informs students that they may not use school email accounts for social media, a policy involving the responsible use of social networking FOR school may be a hard sell. My first step will probably be a survey of my students asking them which social media platforms they use and for which purposes. Then I will share my policy with them and ask for input. The second step will be to determine how my colleagues use social media and which platforms they use. I will probably ask the tech team and the leadership team for feedback before taking my policy ideas to the entire staff. If I see s consensus that teachers and students see the value of social media in education, I will take my ideas to the district tech team, because they write the policies for technology use. Before the policy can be made official, the district attorney’s will need to review the policy and the school board will need to approve it.
Making the policy official is a long and involved process. Before presenting information at the district level, it is important that I have a team, and statistics, on my side. For this reason, I plan to start by surveying students, staff, and probably parents. I will also need to find a team willing to see the possibilities of social media in learning. I am willing to do the work if I can establish a need.