Social media is by far one of the most popular words now a days, especially in a classroom. Students of all ages are singing up for accounts on all sorts of platforms and are eager to discuss the latest trends. Many teachers (and other adults) also have social media accounts. In an attempt to continue to engage students, some teachers have been trying to find ways to bring social media in to the classroom, but should we be concerned?
One thought that immediately pops into everyone’s minds when they hear about issue with youth and technology or social media is cyberbullying. According to Bullying Canada, cyberbullying involves “using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of someone.” Cyberbullying is on issues that is very well documented in the media (take Amanda Todd or Megan Meier for example). Although most cyberbullying primarily happens outside of school, it can still happen anytime students have access to technology which could include when students are able to be on their phones or computers at school during work or lunch time.
Henderson, Auld & Johnson present that “while risks such as cyberbullying have been well documented, and are addressed through numerous cybersafety initiatives, there are a range of other professional dilemmas in using social media in the classroom which have not been explored in detail.” Note that the authors state that the term social media does not only including social netowrking sites such as Facebook, they are also referring to blogs and forums, as well as video and photo sharing platforms. These issues mentioned in the article include: consent, confidentiality, boundaries, and recognizing/responding to illicit activity. Henderson et al. bring up quite a few points to consider regarding these issues:
– Do we as teachers have consent for students to be posting to any sort of social media platform at school?
– Do students, especially younger students, have a complete understanding of the long term implications to posting online?
– Are students able to perceive the full context of what is being read or posted on social media?
– Using socially media is typically asking that students post in a public or semi-public way. Are we able to promise students that their digital footprint will not leave the classroom context?
– By encouraging students to post online are we solidifying their future digital identity?
– Are teachers sharing things they shouldn’t be on social media where students are able to see them?
– Are students able to seek out and openly find teachers’ personal content on social media platforms?
– What risks of public scrutiny come along with teachers having either public or private social media platforms?
- Recognizing/responding to illicit acitvity
– What issues exist in connection to copyright in regards to students posting online?
– How are teachers able to intervene/know if there has been things such as a copyright violation, an edit in someone’s post etc?
– What responsibility does a teacher have in reporting students due to issues similar to the ones mentioned above?
All and all, these four issues raised in the article by Henderson et al. are very thought provoking. It is difficult, if not impossible, for teachers to answer all of the above questions. The authors state that “guidelines for teaching practice nor codes of conduct are wholly adequate in addressing these issues. This is partly due to the continually changing landscape of social media, and partly due to the fact that some of the issues, such as the ethics of colonizing student social spaces, are simply not directly addressed.” They suggest that dialogue among students and teachers is the best way to create a foundation for expectations of social media use in a classroom.