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Code of Conduct in place for interacting with students via social networks? Do you have one?

I have been reading in the news the last few weeks an issue involving Cyber Baiting.  This seems to involve a long drawn out process in where teachers are baited in an attempt to generate a "reaction" that is then filmed and uploaded to Youtube or shared around social networking sites.

The research was based on US teachers and Norton (a virus/ shareware busting company) published the results. It says 3 out of 10 teachers are being involved in some sort of innapropriate conduct, be it via social networks or this cyber baiting. The statistical pool was only 100 teachers so I actually doubt the numbers are as high as they are stating but I could be wrong.

One "commenter" to the newstory wrote the following:

"Many years ago, the video of a teacher lambasting a student was posted on the Internet. (A classmate had surreptitiously filmed the episode).

The teacher was furious with the student because he had done his assignments perfunctorily and his work attitude was abysmal. She tore the assignments and ordered him to redo them assiduously and responsibly.

I watched the video three times. Were I the parent of that student, I would be grateful to that teacher. She was responsible and caring: She went the extra mile to inculcate proper work attitude in that student."

This brings up a few issues in terms of bringing video and camera capaple devices (BYOD) and also using social networks such as Facebook as a tool within our teaching. Another statistic release was that 1/4 of teachers are friends on social networks with their students. This also brings up  another set of risks.

How are schools approaching this matter and do you have a specific rules in your codes of conduct covering the use of social networks for your staff?  


  • Enabling e-Learning

    This is a timely post, Mike, and there have been a few conversations related to this topic in the VLN this year. The Whakatu Cluster have been developing their Acceptable Use Policy, and Netsafe are also epxloring this issue, too.

    There are also two groups on the VLN related to BYOD:

    • BYOD in Schools: A group for discussing the issues, concerns, inspirations and future visions for learners bringing their own device to school to support their learning.

    .....together with a couple of threads on using social media for learning and connecting in the Enabling e-Learning: Teaching group forum.

    I would recommend NetSafe's resources on social media management for schools, from their LGP website: http://www.mylgp.org.nz/search/social/

    I'm interested in the use of the word 'risk' that you use in your post - is it more of a 'challenge' to be managed? If this is the way the world is, if ICT is now the norm and the mobile phone is central to the lives of many young people, to what extent is it about education on appropriate use, as well as creating rules?

  • Tessa Gray

    Big heavy sigh after reading this. The inappropriate use of image video capturing and social networking tools to entrap and defame teachers unfortunately isn’t new – remember Rate my teachers.com? Cyber baiting is cyber-bullying.


    Two issues come to mind here – teacher conduct and student conduct and how these two groups use social networking tools differently


    Suzie Vesper has created a very useful slideshare presentation on the Confident and connected learner. Suzie shares of effective examples of the Key Competencies online as well as the issues associated with being connected - including professional vs private, Privacy vs public. In slides 87 – 94, some scenarios are shared where teachers have crossed the line in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Slides 95-99 offer suggested ways to address these issues. More ideas to unpack as well as Suzie’s presentation have been presented here. All good conversation starters for your staff.


    It also comes down to establishing good citizenship norms or unpacking what good digital citizenship looks like in your school. As Russell Burt writes,

     “All online work should be part of an intentional, well designed school development that has included the consideration for ethical education for 21st Century and the ethical responsibilities of the various members of the learning community. Management should be informed and there should be well thought out accountability internally.”


    In my mind, this doesn’t just mean saying there are rules and policy in place, it’s bigger than that. All stakeholders need to be part of the vision building process as well as any policy/documentation and delivery/implementation. This could include co-constructed acceptable user agreements for students AND teachers*, otherwise there is no ownership. Having clear consequences for inappropriate use is also important.


    The potential management and use of BYO devices needs to be addressed - well before those devices become commonplace in schools. Administrators may think locking down internet access and finding others ways to censor and monitor material at school is the answer, but the reality is …more and more senior students bring along their own access device - T-stick, vodem or smartphone. There are ways around systems (that were supposedly designed to protect students) and banning social media and tools doesn’t work either, instead education does.


    As NAG 5 reads, schools are required to (a) provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students – as well as employees. Teachers need to feel safe too. Being aware of the challenges is just as important as celebrating the potential benefits new technologies bring to teaching and learning. 


    * Staff Cybersafety Use Agreement (MS Word format, 67Kb)

  • Mike Wilson

    Thanks Tessa, some excellent things to take away from your comments. Suzie Vesper's powerpoint is an excellent resource and will be a good starting point for our staff to discuss the issues surrounding this topic (: