Schools Grapple with Social Media Policies

Posted October 7, 2010 in Internet Law by Arthur Buono

School districts around the country are working hard to formulate school social media policies. Schools want to harness social media for use by administrators, teachers, parents and students. At the same time they need to understand and control the risks this poses. Savvy schools know social media isn’t going away, and are getting ahead of the curve.

     
  • Schools come to grips with pervasive social media
  • Social media as teaching platform shows promise
  • Communications, access and control issues to be addressed

 

Social Media Engages Kids, Presents Challenges

Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about schools limiting students’ social media usage as a matter of classroom decorum. We’re talking about schools putting social media into their administrative and communications strategies and into the student curriculum. How can schools best leverage the power of social media? How can schools identify and control the risks, legal and otherwise? What input should parents have if they’re wary of social media?

It’s very early in the game, but what’s emerging is a strong case for school-sponsored social media. There’s already data showing social media increases kids’ academic engagement and improves learning. On the other hand some, perhaps many, parents may be wary of their kids’ social media use. There’s also the problem of unequal access to social media across student populations. Social media seems like it’s everywhere but it isn’t. And even if every kid has access, some have more than others.

Of equal concern are the risks and challenges schools face in adopting social media. These include simple matters like notice. For example, can teachers and administrators communicate official school business with students and parents by texting? As important, can teachers communicate unofficially with students via text? Can students and teachers friend each other, or is this off limits? Schools also must cope with things like freedom of information acts, and the maintenance of records social media use generates.

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