Okay, so this is not quite a review or tutorial, but we don't want to shy away from tackling Teacher's/Parent's fears! With online bullying on the front of every national and regional paper of late, we thought it would be useful to provide you with a way of creating formal social media policies within your school. Facebook has made the news quite often of late, usually not in a good way, but Facebook is looking to provide assistance to schools and parents by teaming up with Edutopia, an initiative created by The George Lucas Educational Foundation, on “How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School.”
The guide, available via the Facebook in Education page, offers a step-by-step process for schools to create formal social media policies. Here is a quick look:
- Examine your school culture: When setting out, it is important to understand the prevailing beliefs about social media in your community. How are social media products currently being used by everyone who exists there, not just students but teachers, parents administrators? 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?
- Organise a team: This team should include teachers who use social media in the classroom and those who do not. It's important to get a wide range of views so that you quell everyone's fears. You have to find a combination that works. This team should be open and transparent in all their conversations and decision making, and be clear about their shared goal. Establish a website or Web page for the posting of notes, resources, and minutes from the meetings.
- Research phase: Your team should begin by evaluating the current policies that are already in place in your school or district. Many schools already have policies in place that cover the acceptable-use basics (using phones in classrooms) — so they only need to add guidelines to help embed learning opportunities. Because the social media landscape changes quickly, this is often the best approach. Next, the team will want to examine the social media policies and/or guidelines from other institutions. In many schools, that I have been too, it simply took a slight amendment to their current policies and procedures to include online behaviour!
- Draft your document and incorporate feedback: Now your team will take all the information you’ve gathered and create a document. This may or may not be the most challenging part of the process, and you can expect many drafts and revisions, if you haven't recognised fears from the outset.
- Make sure the school management and school board see the draft: Your school management will ensure that you are not violating any current policies, laws, or ordinances. Your school board might want to review your document, and if you are changing policy, they will want to discuss and take a vote.
- Introduction to the school community: Now that all stakeholders have signed off on your policy or guidelines, it’s time to roll it out to your greater community. Every member of your team should be tasked with talking to specific groups and/or schools. Take the time to educate your students, faculty, staff, parents, and community about what the document means to them. If you have been open and transparent from the beginning, this will be an easy step.
- Review periodically: Your new policy or guidelines should be a living document and should be revisited often. Social media products change. Your culture will change. Policies will change. Your team needs to look at your document at least annually to determine whether it is working and whether any adjustments need to be made.