Why social media?
This year we have chosen to use blogging and Twitter more with our classes as a way of publishing written responses and tweeting links to blogs. Our reasons for this are to raise the standard of writing by publishing it to a possible global audience and to engage our learners by using social media.
Yesterday I had my year 10 class sign up for twitter and a WordPress blog. We spent time adding photos to Twitter and playing with the appearance of their WordPress blogs. Everyone was fully engaged and enjoying the experience. Then one of my students asked if she could text her mum to see if it was ok to sign up for Twitter, I said yes and she got parental approval. I thought this would be a one off thing and liked the idea that the learner respected her mum enough to ask.
An unexpected reaction
The next day I got an email from another parent asking why we were using Twitter for educational purposes when there was so much bullying that went on. When I mentioned this to my colleagues, 2 of them said they had experienced the same concerns from parents also. This was something we did not even consider would happen. Maybe we were naive, and maybe parents are now more aware of the potential problems that come with the use of social media.
As a result of this we have decided to develop a stock letter to respond to concerned parents with which will explain our reasons for using Twitter and WordPress. The letter will explain that we understand their concerns around using social media, and that we are fully aware of the issues surrounding it’s use. However, we would prefer to see it’s use as an opportunity to teach our students digital citizenship and how to use it wisely and well. Social media is fast becoming a core part of life, not only socially but also in tertiary education and business so this is a good time for us to teach the responsible use of it. We will also say that it is not compulsory.
We have also decided to create a presentation for our learners about responsible use of social media. We can show this to them before we start signing up for Twitter and WordPress.
This has been a surprising issue to arise but it’s good that it has come up so that we can prepare our learners more effectively instead just feeling our way through the situation. It’s also great to see that parents are becoming more aware and informed and that they have boundaries in place for their kids.