Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Using Facebook with Students

Social media has become an useful instructional tool and is used by more and more teachers to interact with their students and by principals to communicate with families and community. A recent report found that more than 70% of Americans have an account.

But there are legitimate concerns about how teachers and other employees use Facebook and other forms of social media with their students. In a recent post, Lisa Nielson provided five best practices for teachers when they use Facebook with students. At the top of the list is the importance of maintaining a professional demeanor and not mixing your personal site with your professional one. Nielson says, "You can create a page or group that students can "like" or "join" without being one another's friend or seeing one another's feed." That's really important. Nielson's other tips are equally useful.

In The School Leader's Guide to Social Media Howard Johnston and I share other ideas about how teachers can use social media like Facebook to improve instruction and how school leaders can use social media to improve communication. We'd welcome your thoughts about the use of social media in schools.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Last "Backpack Generation"

Technology is becoming far more prevalent in classrooms. Some schools have adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs that encourage students to bring and use their own tablets, Smartphones, and other technology in school. Rather than being a distraction, technology has become an indispensable tool for both students and teachers.

This morning I read an interesting article in the ASCD SmartBrief about teaching today's students, often referred to as the last "backpack generation." Zachary Walker captures the excitement about mobile learning and provides three really useful reminders for teachers. He emphasizes that mobile learning is not about the tools, but all about student learning. They are important reminders.

We'd enjoy hearing from you about technology is shaping your work and impacting your students and they're learning.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Social Media Policy: Current Trends

Social media is a term used to describe a lot of things. For many of us we associate it with Facebook or Twitter and we never think about the countless other ways we use social media technology in our professional and personal lives. Our most commonly used social media device is our phone, often called a "smart phone." Cell phones are no longer used for just making calls. They are now used for locating things on the Internet, sending short messages to friends or family, watching television shows or even movies, reading books, and locating a good restaurant or a nearby coffee shop. In other words, for many of us, our social media device (our cell phone) has become indispensable.

I work a lot with principals, superintendents and people who aspire to those roles. When I mention social media they often describe the perils of its availability and use in their schools. But more recently the tone of these conversations is changing from "how do I ban them" to "how do we use them effectively." That's a monumental shift and recognizes that social media technology and social media devices are just not going away. Some schools have adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies that encourage students to bring and use their social media devices for instructional activities.

As a school leader how do you manage social media technology among your students and your employees. What sort of policy might you consider? What type of policy would be appropriate given the prevalence of social media devices and the powerful tools that social media provides for communication, collaboration, and teaching and learning? 

One of my favorite online journals is THE Journal, a publication about current and emerging issues involving technology. Ruth Reynard wrote a really insightful article discussing current policy trends that try to control social media. She offers really useful ideas about how to shape policy so that social media is used appropriately and not in a harmful way.

In The School Leader's Guide to Social Media Howard Johnston and I discuss many of the same issues and provide examples of tools and strategies for using social media in schools. We'd really enjoy hearing from you about how social media is shaping your school and its instructional program.