Please take a moment to view and listen to my VoiceThread regarding the use of social media in the elementary school setting. Feel free to make comments on the VoiceThread or here on my blog.
My school has a pretty generic acceptable use policy that was probably created many years ago when we first started using computers in the classroom and our lab. It does not include any guidelines regarding social media. Currently, the students and parents sign our acceptable use policy when they first enroll in the school, and it is never re-visited. Furthermore, we have separate guidelines that are sent home with our junior high students for our 1:1 iPad program. I’d like for our school to have one acceptable use policy that covers all technology in our school. It should be listed on our school website with our student handbook, and it should be posted in each of our classrooms. I’d like for the policy to be reviewed and discussed with the teachers and students at the beginning of every school year, and parents, students, and teachers should sign a form stating that they have read and understand the policy annually.
While working on this document, I combined items from our current acceptable use policy and the policies sent home with our junior high students when they receive their iPads. I also spent time searching on the internet for the acceptable use policies at other Catholic elementary schools including schools in my diocese. It was very hard to find any acceptable use policies in my diocese so I branched out to the diocese just north of us, other dioceses in the United States, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I specifically looked to include guidelines for the use of social media because our current acceptable use policy makes no mention of this topic.
The document that I put together can be found here or by reading below:
Mary, Queen of Heaven School
USE OF TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Technology is a valuable and real world educational tool. Mary, Queen of Heaven School is committed to teaching its students, faculty, administrators, staff, and school community to work and to learn effectively with technology and to ensure responsible use of technology.
The internet is a powerful and resourceful tool that connects our students and staff with the rest of the world and vast amounts of information, both good and bad. As an educational institution, we believe that our students need to learn how to use the internet appropriately.
The policy outlined below applies to all technology use including but not limited to Internet use. The Acceptable Use Policy for Technology and Social Media applies to all students, faculty, administrators, staff, volunteers, or community members allowed access to school technology resources at Mary, Queen of Heaven.
Scope of Use
The digital world allows anytime, anywhere access. Uses mentioned in this policy apply to inside school use and may in certain instances apply to personal technology use and/or uses outside of school. When personal outside use of technology causes significant disruption in school, these activities may be viewed as a violation of the “Acceptable Use Policy” and may be subject to the disciplinary measure listed below. The types of electronic and digital communications referenced in this AUP include, but are not limited to, social networking sites, cell phones, digital cameras, text messaging, email, and chat rooms.
Responsibilities of User
Mary, Queen of Heaven School will make every effort to provide a safe environment for learning with technology including Internet filtering and safeguards. The students, faculty, administrators, staff, and school community are granted the privilege of using the computer hardware and software, and electronic communication tools including the Internet. With this privilege comes the responsibility for appropriate use.
The following are conditions for being a good digital citizen:
- Respect for Self:
- Users will select online names that are appropriate
- Users will consider the information and images that are posted online before they are posted.
- Respect Others:
- Users will not use technologies to bully, tease, or harass other people
- Protect Self and Others:
- Users will protect themselves and others by reporting abuse and not forwarding inappropriate materials or communications.
- Respect Intellectual Property:
- Users will suitably cite any and all use of websites, books, media, etc.
- Protect Intellectual Property:
- Users will request to use the software and media others produce and protect license agreements for all software and resources.
- No student will be allowed to use the school technology until he or she completes annual digital citizenship training.
- All students will be actively supervised by a teacher, librarian/media specialist, designated school aide, or administrator when using online resources.
- E-mail is restricted for use by junior high students, faculty, and staff. Student email addresses and passwords will be given to the school administrator and technology coordinator.
- The use of the Internet will be consistent with the educational objectives of the school.
- When teachers are using a specific website, they will preview it for content before allowing students to access the site.
- General rules and policies found in the school handbook apply to all students using the internet.
- No personal information (names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.) will be given out over the internet.
- Pictures of minors may be posted on websites only with the parent’s permission and with minimal identification. Minors should not be “tagged” or identified by name in the photograph.
- School social media sites will be controlled and monitored by at least two trained adults. Parents must give consent before pictures of minors are posted. Any information identifying minors is to be kept to a minimum.
- Electronic devices on school property used by students will be monitored by trained adults both while the student is using the device and by IT personnel who control access.
- Use technology to harass, threaten, deceive, intimidate, offend, embarrass, or annoy any individual.
- Post, publish, or display any defamatory, inaccurate, violent, abusive, profane or sexually oriented material.
- Users must not use obscene, profane, lewd, vulgar, rude or threatening language.
- Users must not knowingly or recklessly post false information about any persons, students, staff or any other organization.
- Attempt to circumvent system security or use another individual’s password.
- Deliberately visit a site known for unacceptable material or any material that is not in support of educational objectives.
- Students must not access social networking sites or gaming sites, except for educational purposes under teacher direction.
- Violate license agreements, or copy other protected media.
- Use technology for any illegal activity.
- Breach confidentiality obligations of school employees.
- Harm the goodwill and reputation of the school in the community.
- Transmit any material in violation of any local, federal and state laws. This includes, but is not limited to: copyrighted material, licensed material and threatening or obscene material.
Use of Social Media
- When teachers and students use personal or social media sites such as, but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube they may not mention members of the school community without their consent unless the subject is of public concern and the speech falls under applicable constitutional protections.
- If you are approved to represent the school, unless you are specifically authorized to speak on behalf of the school as a spokesperson, you should state that the views expressed in your postings, etc. are your own. Stick with discussing school-related matters that are within your area of responsibility.
- Be open about your affiliation with the school and the role/position you hold.
- Parents must have access to everything provided to their children. For example, parents should be made aware of how social media are being used, be told how to access the sites, and be given the opportunity to be copied on all material sent to their children via social networking.
- Friending of current students by teachers and vice versa is forbidden on a teacher’s personal social networking site.
- Personal posts must use appropriately respectful speech, and refrain from harassing, defamatory, abusive, discriminatory, threatening or other inappropriate communications.
- Regardless of your privacy settings, assume that all of the information you have shared on your social network is public information.
- Encourage positive, constructive discussion if allowed to use communicative or collaborative technologies
- Be responsive to others when conversing online. Provide answers, thank people for their comments, and ask for further feedback, etc.
- NEVER give out or transmit personal information of students, parents, or school employees. It is also recommended that the “no tagging” option be set for photographs on social networking sites.
- Review content on links first before sharing them on social network posts.
Electronic and/or Digital communications with students should be conducted for educationally appropriate purposes and employ only school sanctioned means of communication.
The school sanctioned communications methods include:
- Teacher school web pages, wiki or LMS site like, but not limited to, Ascend.
- Teacher school email address.
- Teacher school phone number.
- Teacher created, educationally focused networking sites.
- No employee or volunteer is permitted to text message any student and likewise no student is permitted to text message any employee or volunteer.
Electronic and Mobile Devices, Cell phones:
Cell phones or other electronic devices not part of the instructional program are not allowed in classrooms during the regular school day. Students are allowed to keep these devices in their lockers/designated area and must have them turned off. Special permission to carry the devices to and from class may be granted by the principal on a case-by-case basis.
The administration of Mary, Queen of Heaven School has the right to monitor both student and employee use of school computers and computer accessed content. Due to the evolving nature of technology, the administration reserves the right to amend or add to this policy at any time without notice.
Violation of the above rules will be dealt with by the administration of the school. Violation of these rules may result in any or all of the following:
- Loss of use of the school network, computers and software, iPads, including Internet access.
- Issuance of referrals /detentions, if applicable.
- Disciplinary action including, but not limited to, dismissal and/or legal action by the school, civil authorities, or other involved parties.
Anderson, S. (2012, May 7). How to create social media guidelines for your school. In edutopia. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-create-social-media-guidelines-school
Archdiocese of Cincinnati: Social media policy. (2010, May). Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/social_media_policy.pdf
Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth: Social media policy. (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://fwdioc.org/diocese-fw-social-media-policy-english.pdf
Catholic Diocese of Trenton Office of Communications . (2015, November 17). The Catholic Diocese of Trenton social media policy and resource guide. Retrieved from http://www.dioceseoftrenton.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Diocese_of_Trenton_Social_Media_Policy.pdf
Diocese of Covington: Creating a safe environment, policies and procedures for addressing sexual misconduct. (2015, September). Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.covdio.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Policy2015.pdf
Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Safe Environment. (n.d.). Social media policy. In Social media policy. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.utahcatholicdiocese.org/images/safe%20environment/Social_Media_Policy.pdf
Mary, Queen of Heaven School. (n.d.). Student handbook. In Mary, Queen of Heaven School. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.mqhschool.com/images/school-information/StudentHandbook.pdf
Social media guidelines. (2014, June). In United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.usccb.org/about/communications/social-media-guidelines.cfm
Wise, J. (n.d.). The ultimate list of social media policies for churches & ministries. In thinkdigital. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://justinwise.net/social-media-policies-churches-ministries/
Social media is a powerful tool and many teachers use it for personal reasons, professional development, and communication with our school families, yet the thought of incorporating social media in our classroom seems to continue to be a touchy subject. I think some worry that students will be distracted and spend more time communicating with each other rather than focusing on the assignment while others worry about cyber-bullying and student privacy and safety. What I have found after curating website articles about schools using social media in the classroom is that all of these issues can be addressed and the use of social media engages students and extends their learning. Social media is here to stay, the students are aware of it and use it at home so why not use it in the classroom. At least then, we as teachers, can be involved in teaching our students the proper and safe way to interact with others on the internet.
I teach in a K-8 grade setting and I have often wondered how to safely incorporate social media in the classroom. Many of my students are too young to set up accounts and those that are old enough may not be allowed to have them. What I have found through my reading is that I can set up a classroom account with my younger students and we can work as a class to create posts. It is also possible to set up individual accounts to blog, text, whiteboard, tag, post links, and create videos even for young students using educational sites like EduBlogs, Edmodo, and Fakebook. Blogging and posting to social media helps students as young as kindergarten with their reading and writing skills and gives students the ability to share what is going on in the classroom through their eyes. By using social media, students are able to connect and collaborate with other students in their school, district, state, country, and world. Not only will students learn from others, but they will contribute to the learning of others and new cultures and knowledge will be brought into the classroom.
Using social media allows us to explore and educate our students on proper digital citizenship. For example, students will learn the proper way to post and what types of information should be shared in a more controlled environment with teacher guidance.
Social media used in classrooms will not be a waste of time if managed effectively. Teaching students how to properly use social media will help prepare them for the future. After reading these articles, I have more confidence in how I can integrate the use of social medial in my classroom and I plan on incorporating it into my computer classroom in the next school year.
Click below to access my curated articles: