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5 Reasons Why Schools Should Get Social

Jun 06 2016

Nearly half of all teachers from kindergarten through twelfth grade believe that social media improves learning, and yet only 18% have integrated social media into their own classrooms, according to a survey by the University of Phoenix.

They may be missing out on a key tool for communicating with families as well as a valuable classroom learning opportunity. “Schools that have embraced social media … have seen clear results. Many say that social media and digital technology have allowed parents to become more involved in their children’s learning,” says Jay Cooper, a former school public relations specialist.

As with any new endeavor, schools should proceed with caution. Here are some tips for developing and implementing a positive social media presence at your school.

1. Everyone must be on board

It’s the school administrators’ responsibility to work with teachers to develop  common sense social media policies. One key component is to seek parents’ permission before using social media in classes. While some families may have preconceived families notions in the value of social media, this is an educational opportunity for schools to show parents the positive side of social media and help dispel any myths. 

2. Talk early and often about safe social media practices

Kids need to be aware that along with the fun and educational aspects of social media, there can be some serious side effects, including bullying and privacy issues. But as with any life skill, effects, students should learn responsible online conduct.

Schools can implement a social media curriculum that reminds students of the public nature of social media, which includes emphasizing the potential dangers of interacting with strangers online.

3. Keep personal and professional accounts separate

Nearly 70% of teachers fear potentially negative consequences of parents checking up on them via social media, according to the University of Phoenix study referenced above.

To avoid blurring the line, administrators can insist on dedicated social media accounts for the school or class, and remind teachers not to connect with students or families on their own personal accounts.

4. Focus on the learning opportunities

We all know that kids learn best when they are engaged, so social media is a fantastic way for students to practice their writing skills in a real-world environment.

Whether it’s a descriptive class blog post or a quick tweet where students practice brevity, having kids contribute to social media accounts helps them learn different writing styles. Students can also learn about countless subjects by following relevant accounts. 

5. Grow with the times

As teens move away from Facebook and gravitate toward Instagram or Snapchat, schools can stay relevant by doing the same.

For example, Katelyn Gilroy, a library media specialist at Peters Township High School in McMurray, Penn., noticed the popularity of Snapchat and created a library account to share library news and book recommendations. Since Snapchat isn’t reciprocal, her students can follow her without her following them, which ensures their privacy.

Adam Welcome, the principal at Montair Elementary School in Danville, Calif., launched a successful school Instagram account.We’ve also discovered that many authors, athletes, companies and school districts are on Instagram. It’s a lot of fun to loop them into conversations,” he says, emphasizing the educational aspects of social media.

 

About the Author

Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared on LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.

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