#SocMedHE15 is the inaugural Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference, a one day conference, hosted by Sheffield Hallam University. The conference will debate and examine our use of social media and its impact on the higher education learning landscape. Together, we will develop our understanding of good, sustainable practice by sharing accounts of emerging innovation in the pedagogic use of social media. Further details here can be found on the conference website.
I am delighted to present a paper (due Feb, 2016) titled: Social Media as a Professional Medium: an equilibrium of enthusiasm and protection for student teachers.
This paper explores the use of social media within a blended mode of study. Specifically, it aims to consider the professional use of online social contexts to support teaching and encourage collaboration between learners. It will illustrate some factors intended to protect their digital identities, confidence and online well-being.
The University of Glasgow School of Education recently established a blended learning course at undergraduate level (initial teacher education). It was the overall aim of the course to expose 70 students to an eclectic mix of exciting ideas within education. This was designed to challenge them. Delivered through the virtual learning environment (VLE), students and teaching staff were expected to engage in professional dialogue by blogging and participating in discussion through social networking platforms such as Twitter (see: Hashtag #MEduc14 #MEduc15). The course aims to enable students to demonstrate understanding of the foundational content and values of education and to be able to articulate a personal stance towards the discipline. It aims to enable them to engage with conventional and new modes of communication as well as facilitating personal confidence and collaborative styles of working. As part of their assessment, students must evidence their online collaboration through the production of both verbal and visual media e.g. YouTube, WordPress, Instagram etc.
In creating this culture of online discussion and in encouraging students to use Twitter and to write blogs, the course takes a pragmatic look on the use of social media as a professional medium and seeks to protect the newly created digital identities of the students as they begin their career as school teachers.
The paper draws from an evidence-based approach and presents data captured through the wider evaluation of the course to describe the use of social media in this context from the perspective of both the course tutors and the students. Crucially, it makes a series of suggestions which other educators may wish to consider when encouraging students to create virtual learning networks and digital media for teaching, learning and collaboration.
My conference presentation can be downloaded here: Presentation.
Here we are, advancing steadily into 2012. I find it slightly amusing if not frustrating that my first post this year is based on the use of scoial media by teachers. Forgive the title – The Teacher, The Social Media Site and The Public – however I do believe that we are stepping into the fantasy world of mystical beings, talking lions and batlles between good and evil.
Scottish teachers are being warned that their use of social networking sites could put their careers at risk.
For those of you who work with children and young people outwith Scotland, the issues are exactly the same. The media has made a fine example of professionals who have stepped over the line and merged their personal and professional lives together. Easily done when that proverbial line is hardly visible.
This is what the SSTA says:
The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association believes teachers can reveal too much personal information on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The union also fears they could become overly familiar with pupils.
The General Teaching Council of Scotland is preparing new guidelines on social networking sites.
This follows a number of recent cases brought before the GTC’s regulatory body.
Jim Docherty, assistant secretary of the SSTA, told BBC Scotland that teachers should follow his advice: “First thing is don’t bother telling anybody else about your social life. Nobody is interested about your social life and it doesn’t help.
“Secondly, never make any comment about your work, about your employer, about teaching issues in general.
“There is always a possibility it will be misinterpreted.”
And this is what the GTCS says:
The recommended advice for teachers is that the online environment is an extension of your professional responsibility as a teacher. So conduct online must mirror the Standards set out in the GTC Standard for Full Registration and the GTC Scotland’s Code of Professionalism and Conduct (CoPAC). The interesting thing about the CoPAC is that it does not exclude the use of social media with pupils but states that it must be”… professional, appropriate and justified“. For this reason the Disciplinary Sub-Committee
has said that; “…for the avoidance of doubt, there should be absolutely no ambiguity or perceived ambiguity between a teacher’s private life and his/her professional life in electronic communications”.
– John Anderson, Head of Professional Practice, GTC Scotland
In essence, if you have a social media account as a teacher – it should reflect your professional responsibilities as a teaching professional. I wouldn’t expect teachers not to discuss education (in general) so the GTCS shouldn’t either. That’s like asking a politician not to talk about politics. It isn’t going to happen. If you have a personal account, it must be kept completely separate and private. This can be a potential minefield at the best of times if you are unsure of the features available in the programs and you should seek advice from colleagues if you’re not sure.
I for one will continue to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress and the magical wardrobe to Narnia. Of course, with a splash of common sense. Essentially, don’t post anything in the public domain if it is something that you wouldn’t want your mother, spouse or employer to see. Secondly, don’t direct message pupils or add them as friends – be cautious about adding those who have left school as they may have friends on their social site who you still teach.
Lastly – if in doubt, go with your gut instinct.