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September 4, 2012 > Should teachers use social media to communicate with students?

Should teachers use social media to communicate with students?

Submitted By Rick Neil

According to the New York Education Department, there were 69 cases in 2011 where teachers were accused of inappropriate conduct with students on Facebook. Some were fired and this is a growing trend that has many schools restricting the use of social media. However, is a ban on social media in schools the right way to protect children?

Steve Nicholls, author of the best-selling book "Social Media in Business," ( argues that social media is far too important to ban its use in schools as it will be used in every facet of a person's life.

While the risks of social media are very serious, bad people exist in all walks of life and while we must protect against them, we must not let them hinder progress. Nicholls advocates putting a strong social media policy in place to protect the school, the children and the teacher. This will maximize learning and the benefits of social media

Here are ten examples Nicholls recommends:

1. Bring in Experts: Schools should work with legal team on policy and social media experts to understand the benefits and risks of social media.

2. Make a clear policy: Aimed at teachers, students and parents about what is and isn't acceptable. Have written and oral presentations to explain policy and consequences.

3. Highlight past transgressions: Make everyone aware of previous cases of misconduct which led to firing of teachers and expulsions of students.

4. Accountability: Remind teachers they will be held accountable for everything they write on social media sites.

5. Create a classroom page: Teachers should consider establishing a separate classroom Facebook fan page that is safe and secure.

6. Report immediately: Any inappropriate conduct from a teacher or student.

7. Remind students of proper use: On school time social networking sites must not interfere with learning (i.e. video game playing).

8. Assess policy vs. reality: Just because a policy is written does not mean it will be followed. Many "unwritten" rules will take shape and the school must be vigilant and continuously reshape policy to match what is happening "on the ground."

9. Involve parents and local community: Teachers should involve parents and local community so that the community can "police" proper conduct and be available to keep a watchful eye.

10. Bring the risks to light: Children will use social media outside the classroom. In the classroom is the perfect place to teach about the risks. Just as they tell children not to get in a strangers car, they should talk about the dangers of online predators.

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