Use of Social Media in School
Social Media tools, such as blogs, Wikis, social networking sites and video sharing sites (such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc.) can be fantastic for teaching and learning. These tools can also help to engage with parents/carers and the wider community. However it is essential that their use is carefully considered by a school. Good e-Safety practice must be fully embedded across the establishment (such as whole staff e-Safety training, Social Media 'training' for staff and students and parental awareness inputs) before schools should consider using Social Media tools.
The decision on using Social Media must be made as a school and should only take place with full support and backing by the Senior Leadership Team. The use of Social Media tools must be fully documented and risk assessed and outlined in the e-Safety Policy. The school will need to be aware of their responsibility to moderate any content and to ensure that the service is kept up to date. The tools must also be used in accordance with the school's behaviour and complaints policies. Apropriate updates to the schools eSafety and Staff ICT Acceptable Use Policies should also be made and all staff, pupils and parents made aware of any changes.
It is essential that the correct tool is selected, for example to communicate with parents and carers about school based decisions it might be better to use a blog to enable a discussion rather than a Twitter page. Schools should also - where possible - use tools available on their school website or Learning Platform. Crucial to selecting the appropriate Social Media tool is deciding who the target audience is (parents/carers or pupils etc). It is also important to find out if your audience would like to engage with the school via such media, for example some students may not wish to add their school on a social networking site!
Understanding the Technology:
It is important that schools are aware how Social Media sites function and are aware how to make them as safe as possible, such as making profiles "private” or using groups to engage with the community instead of profiles.
When using Social Media with children, schools must be aware of site age restrictions and only use sites that are deemed to be age appropriate and suitable for educational purposes. Such tools will also need to be moderated and regulated frequently as very few social media tools are able to verify and authenticate users appropriately. Where possible when using services which the school cannot control (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) then it is recommended that comments etc are approved before they are made live and membership to online groups etc is controlled (e.g. people must request to join a group or follow).
In order to protect staff, professional accounts, pages or profiles should be used when communicating with pupils or the school community. School approved email addresses and contact details should be used and staff should not share any personal contact details or information with pupils or parents/carers.