Just looking for some advice. We've had a school Facebook Page up and running for nearly three years with absolutely no issues whatsoever. We have found it to be one of our most effective way of communicating with parents as we can share notices, reminders, photos of events etc very very quickly. We have just had a request from a parent to change it from a public page, to an invite only page. Has anyone else had this happen, and if so were the changes made? We are always careful to only identify individual children with first names.
Thanks in advance
I know it is a long time since you posed this question, but you may be interested in a new guide for schools, Using social media to connect with your community, which is now online. This guide offers schools starting points to support planning for, and getting started, using social media with their communities.
I've been thinking a lot about the way we use Facebook lately. It is a social networking site that many people use for many different reasons. Most people agree that it is inappropriate for a teacher to post images of their students on their personal Facebook page. Then, that leads me to question is Facebook really the right place for schools to have their own pages with images of the students on there? I understand a lot of parents are on Facebook and it’s a good way to get the messages out to them. But if we are concerned with students’ privacy and professionalism then I'm just not sure if Facebook is right for schools. On several occasions I've had students say to me that they have found my Facebook profile through the school Facebook page. Which makes me a little uncomfortable as I like to keep my work and personal life separate. Yes it's great for community contact as most parents are on it but don't teachers deserve their privacy as well? Wouldn't a separate social networking site specifically for schools be more appropriate that parents can sign up for notifications?
Interesting thoughts whaeasarah.
I'm really interested in what others have to say around this, but here are my initial thoughts/comments.
My first question when reading this is what really is the difference between a school website and a Facebook page? Is it okay to publish student photos on one but not the other? Also when do the students have the choice if their photos get published? I posted about this earlier this year in Posting photos of children online.
Schools could still use Facebook by creating a closed group, however each school would need to consider the purpose of having the Facebook page/group in the first place. Is it promotion of the school? Is it simply for communication? If promotion, then a closed group is not going to be very useful.
Remember, students don't need to go on Facebook to find your Facebook profile. Google will do it just fine. The key thing is to ensure the security settings on your Facebook profile are adequate. Often when you sign up for social media sites, the security is wide open. If you only want your friends to see your profile, then you need to adjust your settings accordingly.
Finally, whether in a closed group/site or an open page, anyone can download/copy photos and post somewhere else. We need to continue to educate our wider school community around good digital citizenship.
You might like to check out the Connected Learning Advisory guide: Using social media to connect with your community
If you have further advice around this, I would recommend you contact the Connected Learning Advisory by filling in the online form at www.connectedlearning.org.nz
Thanks for your response. To answer your initial question, I think the difference between the school website and Facebook is the purpose of each site. Facebook is predominately a social networking site. Where as a school website is purposefully for communicating with their community. Yes, you can make a closed group on Facebook and I agree it kinda defeats the purpose. I guess I've just been pondering how we use social media and what is appropriate material for which sites. I'm sure most of us have had the odd person on Facebook we've unfriended because we are sick of their posts that don't seem appropriate for a social networking site.
I run the facebook page and our website for our Southern Health School. We also use it for celebrations, notices and a window into our school community. (We need to raise the profile of our school so families and our mainstream schools know we exist for unwell students and it shows what our school does).
The policies we have around it are:
All photos must be approved by the akonga, teachers and parents. Asking is good role modelling as well.
Any comments by the general public come through to me via an email and I can delete the comment if I have a concern. I can also block people. (I have not done this in the 3 years our site has been up and running)
Often I only take a photo of a student''s back while they are sharing or working with a teacher. I upload the photos so I also vet what is appropriate and what is not to be on our facebook page. If I am unsure, I always get a second opinion.
I agree with Nathaniel regarding social media not going away. I believe in giving on-going education around using it safely and then also showing our communities and staff members where to go when things go wrong for a young person.
Recently we had John Parson' s from http://www.simulate2educate.co.nz/ come and speak to our school. He gave us some really good tips and things to ponder when working with social media and when a school or student is in crisis. I recommend him.
On a last note. If I am working with a family closely I always block them under my settings within my own facebook page. I know it would be difficult to block 500 families in your settings but it is an option if you need it.