In another informative post by Rodd Lucier, I learned the Ontario College of Teachers issued a Professional Advisory on the Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media back in February.
This is great news because the message it sends to educators regarding social media is: use it but also use common sense and be careful. It advises educators to make the same judgment calls with social media that they make with other forms of communications they use with students and colleagues. The advisory touches on:
- Private vs. Professional
- Professional Vulnerability
- Criminal and Civil Law Implications
- Disciplinary Implications
- Minimizing the Risks: Advice to Members
It gives educators a powerful weapon in their efforts to introduce social media in a risk averse, often reluctant, bureaucratic system: validation from the top.
The first lines of the first two paragraphs of the advisory say it all:
“Electronic communication and social media create new options for extending and enhancing education [and] can be effective when used cautiously and professionally.”
Armed with this, educators can tell reluctant administrators: “Yes, there are some risks, but the College itself is telling us that they’re outweighed by the potential benefits to our students.”
A great next step would be to turn the advisory in to a full fledged policy covering some of the key issues not addressed by the advisory:
- IT Security
- Information management (is information posted to social media site considered “records” according to your records management policies?)
- Intellectual property/copyright (just how much can you mashup?)
- Accountability and ownership (who opens, owns and is ultimately accountable for school social media accounts?)
- Bilingualism (in French immersion settings)
A policy like this would empower educators by giving them a tool that deals with all the major objections to social media in one document.
Do you know of any similar advisories, guidelines or polices from other Canadian school boards?