Academic social media guidelines

Nathan Liewicki
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Clayton Boyer works away at his latop Monday. The Grade 6 teacher at École St. Margaret, Boyer has embraced social media as a learning tool in the classroom, as evidenced by his blog and professional Twitter account.

Holy Trinity aims to separate personal and professional social media interactions

Clayton Boyer has two Twitter accounts. One is his personal one. The other is his professional account.

A Grade 6 teacher at École St. Margaret, Boyer has embraced the use of social media in the classroom through Twitter and blogging. His professional Twitter account is linked to his blog.

“In my blog I try to give a description of what we did during the day and put some pictures and videos of my students working,” he said. “It’s a communication tool for parents so they can have a little window into my classroom everyday.”

He told the Times-Herald there are some parents who don’t understand why he is using social media mediums in the classroom, but he has plans to expand its use.

“I plan to have students tweet their learning during the year – later in the year,” Boyer said.

He admitted there are challenges associated with using social media as an academic tool. Boyer believes the foremost of all the challenges he and other teachers face is awareness and making sure parents know it’s a 21st Century learning tool available to both students and their parents.

“As time goes on newer teachers are growing up with Twitter and Facebook during their university education,” said Boyer. “It's one of those things that's going to be more and more common as time goes on.”

With continued social media use in classrooms, guidelines regarding appropriate social media interaction between parents and students will keep evolving.

The Holy Trinity Catholic School Division (HTCSD) has already adopted a specific set of social media guidelines, but the Prairie South School Division has yet to do so

Found in the HTCSD’s Administrative Procedures Manual, AP 143 Social Media was put in place in November 2013, and it points out what the division expects, in terms of personal and professional use, for teachers using social media.

“The big thing is that we would expect that those two things are separate,” said HTCSD Curriculum Assessment Technology Consultant Mark Selinger.

Although the use of social media is continuing to be incorporated into curriculums, setting up an academic Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other account requires steps.

Teachers who elect to start a social media site must first fill out a “Social Media Site Approval” form before submitting it to the school’s principal for authorization. The use and application of the site must be well documented and have proven parts of an instruction plan for it to be approved.

After approval is granted, Selinger is contacted for support in the appropriate implementation of the social media site.

This process disallows teachers from interacting with students and their parents through their personal social media accounts.

“At no time should teachers friend a student, or his or her parents on social media,” said Selinger. “Even if it is a classroom use we are still expecting that (teachers) are not (following) students.

“Whatever happens on social media is an extension of the classroom. It's out there in the public so teachers need to act professionally just as they would if they were in a classroom setting.”

To continue the education of parents about its social media guidelines, the HTCSD will be visiting with School Community Councils at each of its schools over the next two months.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, Times-Herald, Prairie South School Division AP 143 Social Media

Geographic location: Holy Trinity

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