Guidelines For Educators Using Social Networking Sites

This month I have had four queries from teachers asking advice for about using technology and Web 2.0 and social networking. Two of them were from brand new rookie high school teachers asking about what tools and services online they "should be using." Another one was from a former colleague who has taken 5 years off from teaching and is reentering education and she wanted to now what she should be looking at and reading "to catch up" on educational technology. The fourth one was from a department chair who was told to get her department "more up to date" in teaching technology.

It's a bit like being asked to update Rip Van Winkle after he wakes up - less years to cover, but so much more has happened.

While combing my bookmarks and making links, I came across "Guidelines for Educators Using Social Networking Sites" by Jen Hegna from the Byron (MN) schools. She is developing this set of guidelines for the staff in her own district. Before I even finished this post (which has been queued for a few weeks in the land of drafts), the guidelines had already been revised.

You can read the suggestions on her site, but I was glad to see that we were headed down some of the same paths of advice. She also references two other blog posts. The title of one, "Don't confuse social networking with educational networking" gives you a good idea of its message. The other post is on "friending" students that was part of my advice to the new high school teachers.

Which of these social tools would you advise a teacher to try using?
Blogger (or Wordpress, Xanga or other blog tools)
Twitter or FriendFeed
professional online communities (like  Classroom2.0 on Ning)
Google Apps

Let's look at just one aspect of using socnets. Social networks work because you can “friend” or "follow" other people and thereby create a group of fellow users that share your interests and so will share your online information and posted content. My own recommendation is that teachers try Facebook which continues to grow in numbers and in its applications. But, if you plan to use it to connect with your students, I suggest you create a "professional" account and keep that separate from your "personal" account (if you plan to have one of those too).

From Jen's recommendations:

On Friends and friending
-Do not accept students as friends on personal social networking sites. Decline any student-initiated friend requests.
-Do not initiate friendships with students
-Remember that people classified as “friends” have the ability to download and share your information with others.
-If you wish to use networking protocols as a part of the educational process, please work with your administrators and technology staff to identify and use a restricted, school-endorsed networking platforms.

-Post only what you want the world to see. Imagine your students, their parents, your administrator, visiting your site. It is not like posting something to your web site or blog and then realizing that a story or photo should be taken down. On a social networking site, basically once you post something it may be available, even after it is removed from the site.
-Do not discuss students or coworkers or publicly criticize school polcies or personnel.
-Do not post images that include students.
-Visit your profile’s security and privacy settings.
-At a minimum, educators should have all privacy settings set to “only friends”. “Friends of friends” and “Networks and Friends” opens  your content to a large group of unknown people.

What tools, networks and services would you recommend that a teacher try using to move themselves and their teaching into Educational Technology 2.0?

What guidelines would you set for the use of social networks by teachers?

Your comments below are welcome!

Jen Hegna also lists the following resources:
-Should Students and Teachers be Online Friends?
-A Teachers Guide to Using Facebook
-Social Networking Best Practices for Educators


Trackback specific URI for this entry


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
BBCode format allowed
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.
To leave a comment you must approve it via e-mail, which will be sent to your address after submission.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.