Teachers and social media

The New Zealand teachers council has developed a useful and applicable resource for social media and education.


The guidelines for teachers are well considered and developed by an informed and realistic group of people. This fits with the model of digital citizenship that we use – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/The+Digital+Citizen:

  • Looking after yourself – respect and protect yourself
  • Looking after others – respect and protect others
  • Looking after property – respect and protect intellectual property

Here are the guidelines, I like the title which is professional commitment - http://www.teachersandsocialmedia.co.nz/guidelines/commitment-profession:

  • Engaging in ongoing discussions with colleagues can help when you are unsure whether you should share, reuse or respond to content. Talking to colleagues about your activity on social media platforms means you aren’t acting in isolation and exposing yourself to a potential ethical dilemma.
  • Check whether your learning centre has a policy on social media use and always act in accordance with that policy. If there isn’t one or the existing policy is outdated, bring it up for review at a staff meeting.
  • Be aware that once shared, content posted on social media platforms can be re-shared by many.
  • Consider your digital ‘footprint’ and the fact that people you don’t know may judge you based on how you are portrayed online.
  • Think about how you want to be presented, both in your own posts/photos/videos and those you are ‘tagged’ in by other users. Be aware of how it may appear to colleagues, parents/guardians, learners and society in general and consider whether it is consistent with how you want to be viewed as a member of the teaching profession.
  • Up-skill yourself – many social media platforms have helpful tutorials and guidelines on how to set up groups, establish privacy settings, and how ‘friends’ or other users are able to share information that you post.
  • Check the terms of use of each social media platform that you use to make sure you know how the service provider may access, re-use or republish the information you post.
  • When posting information created by another author or organisation, you should clearly acknowledge their ownership and the source of the information. This is advisable regardless of whether the information is clearly copyrighted in the original source or not.

They also discuss the recommendations for dealing with students in social media:

  • Before having one-on-one conversations using social media, consider ethical risks that could arise. Act the same way when using social media, as you would in a face to face setting.
  • Carefully consider the tone and content of your posts or messages when using social media as a teaching tool – think about how it compares to how you present yourself in the physical learning environment.
  • When using a social media platform, consider setting up separate groups for specific teaching purposes. Keep your private and professional use of social media separate.
  • If learners contact you by social media and ask for help or advice relating to sensitive personal issues, social media isn’t the right forum for providing support. Consider redirecting them to appropriate support structures, such as the Guidance Counsellor or guidance team in their school/centre. Follow your school or centre’s policies on dealing with information divulged to you as a teacher.
  • When using social media for teaching, think about how you will monitor content so that posts and discussions remain on-topic. You may want to de-activate the group when the project or unit ends to avoid creating a space where off-topic and un-moderated chat can continue.
  • Remember that when you set up an online space such as a group or a blog, you remain the ‘owner’ or administrator. This means you should take care when delegating editing rights to others.

4 thoughts on “Teachers and social media

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