Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Social Media Use Needs to Focus More on Learning Than Behavior

It pains me when I hear about school districts that are attempting to implement and impose social media policies that focus more on the "behavior" of educators as opposed to student learning.  Last week I was fortunate to weigh in on one such district's journey in this area and share my thoughts on where the emphasis should be. The video clip of the interview can be found below. 

After viewing it I would love to know what do you think.  Where should the focus be when districts look to impose social media policies?  Should there be any specific policies at all or is the best course of action establishing general guidelines?  What should be the role of student voice in this process?

For some more of my thoughts on the role of social media in education check out this recent interview I did for School Webmasters.


  1. I think that administrators (and school boards who I find often get in the way of social media) need to focus on the reward side off social media rather than the risk side. It is a great way to promote the good in a school in a timely manner without having to worry about outside filters and bias. In this economy it is not just private schools who have to self promote. SM is a good way to let the people who vote see what good their taxes are doing. Training of teachers and administrators is also important. Both want to say and do the right things but they sometimes need to learn the ins and outs of how things can be taken in an online context.

  2. I agree with you, Eric. In my work in higher education, as well as in collaboration with primary and secondary educators, I have learned that the role of student voice is essential -- particularly where the use of social media is concerned. We discussed some of these ideas recently at a conference here in Ireland (blog post:

    Here is what two of my students wrote in their reflections on using social media in our course this year:

    Keep up your great work -- always learning from you :)

  3. Protocols should guide social medial use, and the protocols should reflect the general acceptable behaviors and uses for social media. Further, educators need to find ways to embed social media use meaningfully into student learning. One such way to do this is to embark on a student-led global presentation for the fall global education conference, another way is to raise awareness and funds online for a good cause. There are countless others. Thanks for prompting this conversation.

  4. I going to respond as a parent rather than an educator. If schools want parents to be involved (I have experienced with my children schools were parents were part of the school family and schools were parents excluded as often as possible and discouraged from interfering and everything in between.) they need to make communication convenient for parents.

    This means that schools need to share information in a way that parents will receive. Most parents access social media sites multiple times a day. It just makes sense that a school would use these resources. Now... there are ways to make information private on these sites and to restrict access but lets be honest... in the age of technology does anyone really have privacy anymore?

  5. I am currently a student at Cabrini in the Technology & Communication in the Educational Leadership. I was adamantly against social media in the schools until this course. My instructor, Lyn Hilt @L_Hilt really introduced Twitter to the class and gave us a trial by fire on the first night into a live chat. I had used twitter before class but never really understood it. It was intense but it was a great experience. I completely agree that this is where our students live. Social media is their life and as educators we can either join them a show them how to do it responsibly or let them explore on their own and we will see more cyber bullying and students ruining chances in the future because they are uniformed in how their cyber footprint affects them in the future. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc are the new ways to communicate and if we do not jump on and learn as much as we can then we will be missing so many new ways to reach and educate our students.

  6. There are many things I agree with you on here in this interview, Eric. And although I am relatively young, there was a big part of me that struggled with allowing social media to be a part of the classroom. I felt it was an easy out for educators. However, you're correct in saying "social media is the world as we know it." How cool is it that we can experience that with our students? It opens so many doors for teacher-student learning. Further, the crossing of educational/developmental/emotional borders is uncanny. We are educators for a reason; we can make sound decisions about what is right and what is wrong. And at the end of the day, it's still our duty to teach. Whether that's in the form of digital responsibility or defined learning goals - what a great way to be doing it.