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What's Your District's Social Media Stance?

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December 4, 2017

Social media at school? No way!

I get it. Opening up social media sites on your district’s network can be scary and overwhelming, especially with the constant reports about online bullying and inappropriate communication between educators and students. But what is equally concerning to me is knowing that our students use unrestricted social media and other communication tools anyway, many without supervision, guidance and no understanding of their content’s ramifications. 

Sure, students could use those “educationally designed” social media sites that are highly restricted and safer for underage students. But let’s face it—when kids are hanging around their friends or communicating with them online, they don’t use those sites. They’re sharing videos and images on Instagram. They’re doing the same on Snapchat. The list goes on and on and will continue to do so as new sites are created. 

Students need digital citizenship training

Unfortunately, a large number of our students do not receive any level of instruction at home on how to be safe, responsible digital citizens. We further compound the problem by blocking the sites at school where students could be learning safety and responsibility and practicing proper use under educator supervision.

Because of the lack of digital safety and responsibility education outside of school, the onus is on us as educators. We must ensure our students receive proper training on how to behave and stay safe online. 

What can we do?

Why wait? There’s no better time than today to take action on this critical subject. How do you start? Here are a few steps to consider:

  1. Review your social media policy (for students and adults), and make sure it is up to date. Having policies in place and regularly sharing them with your stakeholders educates everyone of their responsibility and gives you something to which you can refer back should someone violate the policy. District Administration magazine has an excellent article on this topic. And as always, if you need assistance, please let me know.
  2. Review your network restrictions. If you have major concerns about opening up access, talk to our IT director, Ben Parker. He has a wealth of knowledge in this area and can shoot you straight on the best route to take.
  3. If you don’t already have any, select age-appropriate digital citizenship curriculum for your teachers to use with their students. Here are a few great resources to review:

                 a. Common Sense Education

                 b. Digital Citizenship

                 c. Edutopia

                 d. Global Digital Citizen

      4. If you would like guest speakers to come talk to your students, OPSRC offers student training for elementary through high-           school ages, and we would be happy to be a part of growing this conversation among your kids. Email me if you are           interested.

About the Author

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Sarah Julian

Director, Communications

Sarah serves as the Director of Communications for the OPSRC. In this role, she will provide support, consultation, and training on communication plans, social media policies, crisis communications, media relations, and website content.

Sarah has dedicated her entire professional career to Oklahoma public education: over 14 years in communications, technology, and teaching college-level English Composition and Humanities. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Writing & Communications.

Want to learn some fun facts about Sarah? Click here!

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