Today’s young learners seem to live a parallel life on Facebook. And many school districts are eager to leverage the attraction of social networking to engage students and help them learn digital literacy skills that are vital to their future success. However, districts are also concerned about unsuitable student/teacher communications and exposing students to online predators, cyber bullying, inappropriate material and other potentially harmful or negative situations. Districts that have created effective social learning environments that are safe and transparent say the following elements are critical to success:
__ Develop comprehensive acceptable use policies to protect students online.
__ Make sure policies comply with federal government guidelines like COPPA and CIPA.
__ Communicate the guidelines to students and their parents and educate them about what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.
__ Enforce social media guidelines.
__ Create a secure technology infrastructure that gives the district control over content and membership.
To read firsthand experiences and best practices from districts that are successfully using social media to improve student success, check out Creating a Safe Social Learning Environment.