On Monday April 11th, the long awaited press release of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) electronic communication and social media advisory was released. I was attending the OCT live presentation on Tuesday in Toronto, and viewed the advisory print document and watched the video to be well informed for the session.
My initial impression of the print document was that it was a well written, solid framework to guide educators into this new territory. I was very impressed with the video production as it captured a positive spirit for leveraging these new tools within our education system. I did feel that some additional clarification was required in the area of Facebook use, and planned my comments and questions for the live session.
It was interesting to watch the press and media take on the documents and follow the reactions via Twitter. As one would expect, reaction varied widely, tending towards the ‘too cautious’ end of the scale. Tuesday morning, I was able to have a conversation with Chris Vollum, an excellent speaker who has significant experience presenting social media sessions to school and parent audiences across the province and at many WRDSB schools. Chris, who was interviewed as part of the video, had a positive reaction and felt the overall message was positive. I also had a good phone discussion with Jane Mitchinson who has provided extensive leadership in technology and social media use within our Board.
The session was well organized, with the agenda organized as: presentation, table discussion and Q&A. I captured some of the important highlights and shared them on Twitter:
- Opening remarks: OK to use social media in responsibly and ethically — key factors: care, trust, integrity and respect
- The intent of the advisory is to clarify responsibilities while capitalizing on the potential of these tools
- Social media tools can be appropriate, useful and powerful
- OCT: ‘off duty’ use of social media tools matters – what does appropriate use look like?
- Online behavior by teachers should reflect the same professional ethics as used in the school setting
- Private vs. Professional: onus on members, off duty conduct matters, exercise caution, act professionally at all times
- The internet is part of a teacher’s off duty realm
- Any online presence should respect professional integrity, even in the somewhat less formal social media environment
- Reviewing some examples of professional misconduct -I note that these examples would be inappropriate online or offline
- Teachers: model good behavior, advocate proper use (digital citizenship) be courteous and professional at all times
- Facebook – caution re ‘friending’ – but no distinguishing of friend=contact, it is all about the security and privacy settings – education!!
- My comment: follow the Grandma rule— if you don’t want your Grandma to find out, don’t put it on Facebook
- You can’t judge social media from outside
- Board hosted email should be used for communications with parents (not personal email addresses)
The table discussions were interesting. We were given 4 scenario questions to consider. All were great questions with pros and cons and certainly generated excellent discussion around the different viewpoints — risk factor(s), legal implications, empathy, professional approach.
In some ways, I enjoyed the Q&A best. Many good questions were asked, and gave further indication that there are multiple factors to consider in almost all situations. I did take the opportunity to raise a few points during the discussion:
- Digital citizenship and character development programs are essential for teachers and students
- Staff and students need authentic experiences with social media tools in a real world context
- Your digital footprint represents your online presence – how google-able are you?
- Your digital legacy is your digital reputation – how will other perceive you and remember you?
- Social media tools offer many opportunities for connecting, collaborating and sharing – embrace & capitalize
OCT Social Media video
Viewpoint: Pipedreams (blog)
Viewpoint: Off the Record (blog)
Viewpoint: The Clever Sheep (blog)
Viewpoint: Jane Mitchinson (blog)
Viewpoint: People for Education
People for Education’s Online Community