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?

2 Responses to “Ontario teachers do it cautiously (but at least they do it)”

  1. siki? Says:

    Google Sites is an easy way to create web pages for intranets or class projects. You control what’s public, and what’s private. No coding or HTML required.

  2. porno Says:

    Facebook status, or comment on a YouTube video they’re producing shareable content online. The challenge is to get them creating and sharing more complex content like blog posts, podcasts, or their own videos or Bitstrips comics. It’s through doing this that they’ll discover the power – and fun – of collaborative creation and learning will just be a positive dermis

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