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Social Media in Secondary Schools

Started by Jan Kumar 05 Jul 2016 10:16am () Replies (3)

The use of social media, in particular Facebook, is an issue that my school is currently facing. We have an open policy at the moment that allows access to Facebook through our wifi at any time. I am keen to continue this as I see it is important that students learn to deal with the social media as part of their education - to me banning something just drives it underground and evades the issue. However, many teachers are struggling to maintain focus in class especially when using devices for learning activities and are asking for a total ban.

I am interested in what other schools are doing for this - any strategies that you have to offer.


  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 05 Jul 2016 10:44am ()

    Hi Jan - so good to connect again.  My viewpoint is that teachers need to let go of controlling the digital environment that students are working in and focus more on outcomes for the students.  What do the students need to know and what is the proof that your teachers require that the students have learned what they need to know?  In other words, allow the students to use facebook if and when they need it, also allowing student agency for choice and control over what and when they learn and how they will prove it.  It requires a mindset change - listen to the students - what do they say about it?  If there is enough interest and passion for what they are learning, there is no need to control whether they access facebook or not.  How many teachers have started a facebook group for discussion about the learning?  

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 14 Jul 2016 5:07pm ()

    I’m not working in a school at the moment Jan, but I find your post very interesting. I figure your students are straying off-tasks when they use their digital devices for learning?

    I recently attended a training day with others outside the educational field. It was an awesome day, well-planned, with a great facilitator and I was well and truly engaged. However at the beginning of the the day we were asked to take our phones off the table and were encouraged to work ‘old school’ with pencil and paper. When we were asked to scribe our ideas, I wrote quickly, not realising someone else would then need to read my planning notes. I felt a little embarrassed, because I haven’t hand written anything in years, in fact my writing is really illegible now. But I can type fast and if I was allowed to use my laptop, I could have started working on my idea straight away. My point? For the first time, I could see how our students get frustrated fast if they can’t use their devices, hence the pocket texting and trolling through Facebook to message their mates. They expect to access free wifi most places they go, including the bus.

    I guess it’s all about balance. In that regard, I found this quote interesting,

    This insight into the lives of 28 teenagers reveals how diverse their lives and approaches are. While most possess phones and use Facebook, they use them differently to pursue different interests, sometimes deployed to connect with others and sometimes to tune them out. There are many reasons for this, but the more we know about teenagers' lives the clearer it becomes that young people are no more interested in being constantly plugged in than are the adults around them. What they want is to have the choice of when and where to disconnect from the often rulebound and conflicted world of grown-ups they find themselves in. http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/79929515/A-day-in-the-digital-life-of-teenagers

    I'm wondering if this might come down to the culture of the community, and can be managed, a plan developed (if you don’t have one already) for dealing with this. Ie: negotiated norms, agreed ways of working, expectations for engagement, timeframes, tasks to be completed etc. Leigh’s points about student agency choice and control are important. Maybe a set of clear negotiables and non-negotiables could be the compromise?

    For example, an agreed statement might read,

    In an hour’s lesson, it is expected you will be on task for XX % of the time. You may check your devices intermittently for micro breaks of XXX mins with a maximum of XXXX times during a lesson. If you are observed to have breached these expectations, it would be considered a distraction to your learning… the consequences of which are XXX....

    I’m not sure, just thinking on the top of my head. Some might say a statement like this might encourage them to check out their social networks more. Would love a debate around that idea.

    One question Jan - does this problem look the same when the students are working in groups on a task? 

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e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

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