Key Barriers to the use of Social Media in Schools – Pt 1

This blog is 4-1 of 19 in a series on how to implement an Enterprise 2.0 framework  for schools.

1. INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the key barriers to Social Media use in schools. The article on this link “Web 2.0 site blocking in schools” had good information on these barriers. I have referenced these barriers, as well as barriers mentioned in the Monash
University report
and the ACMA report. The following barriers to Social Media use, found in Figure 1.0, therefore forms the basis for this blog, and form the basis of the next 7 sections.

A key barrier that is not discussed in this blog is the significance of the current social and political attitudes of the leadership team at your school. This factor ultimately determines the the pace at which you move to an Enterprise 2.0 model of operation. The purpose of this blog is not to talk about barriers to an Enterprise 2.0 model, but rather the barriers to the adoption of social media tools. The outcomes and effectiveness of these social media tools, ultimately depends on how your school has adopted Enterprise 2.0 practices. This is not a trivial issue, and is therefore discussed in my next blog – Key Barriers to the implementation of an Enterprise 2.0 framework -Pt2.

Figure 1.0 – Barriers to the use of Social Media in Schools

2. – INFLEXIBILITY OF SCHOOL INTERNET FILTERS.

There are options here. Rather than taking the approach that you BLOCK everything that could be a potential danger, your IT department can purchase web filtering devices that allow students to use web 2.0 tools. These devices simply monitor any malicious content being produced in these sites, in real-time. At my college I use a product called netbox blue. You need to hassle your IT guys to come up with an acceptable solution. Sorry IT guys.

2. LIMITING BANDWIDTH FOR EFFECTIVE WEB 2.0 MEDIA USE.

Again there are options here. In the scheme of the total IT costs for any organisation, doubling your bandwidth for your organisation, would add less than .5% to the total budget, if that. Tell your IT department to go and get more bandwidth. Sorry again IT guys.

3. PROFESSIONAL RISK ASSOCIATED WITH POTENTIAL STUDENT HARM AS A RESULT OF ACCESS TO SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES.

Most schools have internet filters that control what content students and teachers are exposed to. As mentioned we have a good web filtering device at our college. However if you are not in such a fortunate position, here are potential professional risks, and potential student harm they may result from accessing Social Media Tools.

 Access and Production of Inappropriate Content by Teachers

Figure 1.0: Teachers who unwittingly posted private photos on a public site

Production of Inappropriate Content – Teachers should be very aware that anything that is posted online is potentially public. Those teachers who use social media have a responsibility to themselves to ensure that their online image or public profile remains professional. Sorry teachers you can not display your dirty laundry, or ‘let off steam’ online. You are a role model…. That’s the job you signed up for. There are also several articles worth considering, when establishing online professional relationships with your students. How close is too close?

Accessing of Inappropriate Content – As a teacher you need to ensure you have appropriate professional associations online. Accessing material posted by your friends can be risky, and is not an excuse for accessing inappropriate content.

Access and Production of Inappropriate Content by Students

Production of Inappropriate Content

Figure 2.0 – highlights one of the main concerns by teachers and administration of student Social Media use.

Like any policy in your school whether it be a hat policy or a late policy, you need to educate students on an issue, if students are to act responsibly. There is no difference when it comes to Social Media use. Students have to be educated in their legal and moral obligations when producing information online.

Accessing of Inappropriate Content – This is probably the most difficult area to “Police” when it comes to Social Media. Teachers, without the use of specific monitoring tools, can not control what students access through their online networks, whether it be internal to the school or external to the school.

Contact

Teachers – In the same way that you carefully choose who your own children are exposed to, you will need to ensure that any online social media group that you expose your students to, can only be joined by appropriate colleagues and visitors. Most social media sites allow this to be moderated.

Students – Students need to be more aware of the information they post online about themselves. Unknowingly they can be groomed to provide information that can lead to an unwanted physical meeting. Figure 2.0 highlights the problem of students not understanding their legal responsibilities online.

Privacy

The following information is produced by the Australian Government – Privacy and Social Networking.

4. CONCERNS ABOUT CYBER-BULLYING

According to the study undertaken by Monash University 94.9% of students are actively and regularly using Social Media. I imagine that there is a certain level of cyber-bullying being undertaken currently. If any teacher or school administrator can tell me how a teacher using social media in classes to increase understanding of a particular subject matter will further increase cyber-bullying, I would like to know……

5. CONCERNS ABOUT CYBER-SAFETY

See the above point, in regards to current student use. I not sure how using social media in schools all of a sudden will increase risks to students. As a school community we can only decrease the risk to students through responsibly modelling social media use. In addition to modelling social media use, formal teaching of risk would be taught as part of any curriculum.

The following study has popped up a number of times, that states that students who spend more time on Facebook do worse in schools. Well derrrr. Let’s get students using social media tools in a responsible way.

http://healthland.time.com/2011/08/08/kids-who-hang-out-on-facebook-do-worse-in-school/

5. LACK OF TEACHER KNOWLEDGE IN WEB 2.0 TECHNOLOGIES.

Until the attitudes of administration in schools change, there will not be a lot of teacher training. A bit of a catch 22. Let’s start with administrators. Let’s get them using Social Media Tools…. Small steps…. Start with the school newsletter, or Principals message.

6. LACK OF SAFE PLACES TO GAIN EXPERIENCE WITH USING WEB 2.0 TECHNOLOGIES.

If you school uses Microsoft SharePoint as its document management system, this would be a great place to start using Wiki’s and Blogs. If you do not have SharePoint refer to my previous blog on best site to find social media tools.

This blog has briefly discussed some of the key barriers to implementing an Enterprise 2.0 framework in your school. Feel free to make comments and suggestions regarding the content in this blog.

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About whellmuth

Working with the education software industry to build software with standard arhitectures that allows schools to have extensible and well integrated technologies. Member of Software QLD. Member of Microsoft advisory board on cloud computing. My doctorate specialises in Software Architecture in the Education environment. My Master Research specialised in IT change management.
This entry was posted in Enterprise 2.0, Social Computing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Key Barriers to the use of Social Media in Schools – Pt 1

  1. Pingback: Mapping internal stakeholders and the current culture within the school | Wayne Hellmuth

  2. Pingback: Key Barriers to implementing an Enterprise 2.0 Framework – Pt 2 | Wayne Hellmuth

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