I just want to outline some thoughts I’ve had recently about the impact schools have on students when they neglect the power of social media as a communication tool, a digital citizenship tool, and a lifelong learning tool. First, there’s no denying the power of social media to communicate with stakeholders. Schools across the country have skyrocketed communication by leveraging social media to communicate details from sporting events, academic successes, to homework assignments. Their investments in tools like Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram have resulted in a powerful brand. Building a brand comes from sharing your story. It’s well quoted in circles of connected educators that if schools aren’t investing in sharing their story, the community is likely developing a story that schools don’t want. See Eric Sheninger’s blog post about this topic.
According to Job-Hunt.org social media can have an impact on potential recruiters and new employers. Check out this article by USAToday to get a glimpse of just how complicated this issue can be. By neglecting to invest and model appropriate use of social media, schools are sending the wrong message to students. No longer is social media a private matter. Gone are the days when what we say or do on social media has no affect on our lives. But when schools neglect the opportunities to model and carve out a positive digital footprint, they send the message to students that social media is strictly for private matters. Students are in a dangerous place when they feel a disconnect between what goes on in the social media sphere and what goes on in their public life. Social media has embedded itself into our society in such a way that schools can no longer neglect it. George Couros stated that if schools neglect to model and instruct students about proper use of social media, they are the same as teaching driving lessons without a vehicle.
Digital learners need and deserve digital leaders. Schools can no longer stand by idly while the rest of society adapts and transforms to the impact of social media and technology. In many rural areas, like the one in which I teach, many students have no global perspective because they’ve never been outside of their hometown. Yet in classrooms like Pernille Ripp’s , her students have connected with over 200,000 students on 6 continents since 2010 by effectively leveraging social media tools. Even educators are leveraging the power of social media to connect with other educators and transform their learning by developing personal learning networks.
Consider these points of advice I gathered from my connections with other administrators effectively implementing social media at their schools:
- Connect with administration from a school effectively implementing social media tools. Let them guide and support your decisions during implementation. Don’t skip this.
- Identify educators who are appropriately modeling social media use. Run a mock interview and browse an educators social media pages to identify an effective positive digital footprint. Many educators still hold the mindset that my social media account is for my private life. That mindset must shift to one where social media accounts create a picture of the values and beliefs that person shares in both their professional life and their personal life.
- Agree on the purpose of your social media pages. What will your accounts do? What will they not do?
- How are you going to involve community voice in how social media will be used?
- How are you going to begin engaging parents and students? How will you notify stakeholders of the social media accounts?
- My wife, @mrs_julOldfield, suggests printing business cards with all of your social media accounts and placing them at local businesses and/or handing them out during sporting events just to spread the message to the community.
Thank you Beth!
Thanks for a very thought provoking post I plan to share it with my principal. We need this perspective at our school.