Educators are making choices on social media that impact students, the school, and themselves. That impact can certainly be a positive one, particularly when schools have created guidelines for behavior and content on social media. However, without such guidelines, teachers, administrators, and staff can be unsure where the line between appropriate and inappropriate lies. Social media acceptable usage policies take the guessing work out for faculty and staff and ensure consistency across campus.
Recently, I took a moment to review a number of independent school social media acceptable social media policies shared on list servs or by generous colleagues. These vary widely in length, from a few simple sentences to several pages of carefully worded guidelines. The best of these are rooted deeply in that school’s mission and teaching philosophy and offer educators viable options to communicate and connect with others, whether through official channels or through social media itself. Luckily, there are common themes that emerged that hopefully can help as you explore a policy for your school:
- Goals/Purpose — Most policies develop a rationale at the beginning, listing both risks and rewards and often referring to the school’s mission and philosophy as well as any pertinent existing policies (e.g. the faculty handbook).
- Friending/following — Consider your school’s policy for friending (accepting and initiating friend requests) for students, parents, alumni, prospective students, and former students.
- Teaching with social media — Decide your school’s approach to using social media sites within the classroom or instead (or in addition to) focusing on other options such as Nings, collaborations within school websites themselves, etc.
- Posting content — Detail any specific guidelines on posting content to social media and mention any restrictions on usage during official school hours.
- Privacy settings — Suggest that educators familiarize themselves with the privacy settings of facebook and similar sites and restrict their profiles and content if recommended by the school.
- Educators’ friends — One area often overlooked is an acknowlegement that what friends post on educators’ pages/profiles and what educators post elsewhere can be public. Encourage faculty and staff to weigh carefully what they post and to inform friends of their professional role online.
- School’s reputation — Policies often include recommendations to adhere to school policies (including harassment, etc.).
What other categories you are seeing in independent school social media policies? What are your recommendations for creating and implementing such policies in a positive and proactive manner?
Photo Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Official_policy_seal.svg