Social Networking

Social Networks in Education (Survey)

The use of Social Media in educational settings is beginning to show terrific benefits. Many schools have already grasped some of these benefits, but many more are struggling to come to terms with the ideology of social media and how it best fits; a number of reasons can be cited e.g. Lack of strategic incentive, a lack of (or the myth of) technical know-how and concerns of e-safety to name a few.

Matt Britland (@mattbritland) and Alan Mackenzie (@esafetyadviser) have joined forces and are going to write a collaborative piece to tackle some of these issues. The outcome of this article will is:

To give examples of the type of Social Media services available.
To indicate the benefits of Social Media and give examples of good practice.
To mitigate some of the e-safety concerns of using Social Media in an educational environment.

If you wish to add further comments that aren’t identified in the survey, please email Matt and Alan as follows:

The answers you give in the survey questions are a building block to this piece of writing; Matt and Alan would like to thank you in advance for your contribution.


Using Facebook Groups in Schools

In my experience students  have never been brilliant at checking their school emails, especially the older kids. This makes communicating with them quite difficult when they are not sat in your class.

A great way to improve this is to use Facebook groups. Now, this presents a problem. The main one being schools tend to be terrified of social networks. Possibly because they do not understand them? However, if you have a forward thinking school you can over come this by showing them how useful they can be. Once they are aware of this they may let you give Facebook groups/Twitter a go.

The reason I wanted to use Facebook groups is that many students check it everyday, more often than not several times a day. In fact, much of the time they are using their smartphones rather than a computer to access their profile. It Almost makes filtering Facebook in schools a bit pointless.

Facebook is a smarter, faster and more efficient way of communicating.

This is why I wanted to pilot the use of Facebook groups at school.

So how did we do it? Well, firstly and rightly so, the teachers (myself included) did not want to use their personal profile to set up groups.

This is what we did:

  1. Set up a school Facebook profile (using a separate email address)
    • The name would be the initials of the school then the teachers surname.
    • Once we had set that up we would go through all the privacy setting and make sure they were locked down. (Although the profile would essentially be blank and contain no personal information apart from maybe a profile picture of some variety)
  2. We would then add other school profiles (not personal profiles) as friends so we had a little network going.
  3. Create a private group. (Private groups mean others can see who is in the group, but not what is written in it)
    • To create a group you must add at least one person. Teachers added me as I was running the pilot.
  4. Once that has been done the owner of the group can then email the group URL to the students they would like to join. The students then make a request to join and the teacher can accept.

Doing it this way means that at no point does a teacher need to be “Friends” with the students and all communication is carried within the group.

The trial has been very successful and I have now got more teachers involved.  I have found using groups has:

  • Improved communication
  • Allowed teachers to share important information quickly
  • Share resources like videos and links quickly.
  • Carry out polls
  • Create documents
  • Embraced the technology students are using

We have set up Facebook groups mostly for extra curricular activities such as:

  • Sports
  • Duke of Edinburugh
  • Houses
  • School expeditions
  • Clubs

However we also set up accademic groups, which have also been sucessful.

Things to think about:

  • Ask permission from your school
  • Remember you need to be 13 to have a profile (I know students do have them when they are younger but they shouldn’t)
  • As a teachers and owner of the group you must remember to moderate all of the posts
  • Do not make “Friends” with students, even on a empty school profile.
  • If you are overseeing Facebook Groups make sure you make a list of all school groups. You really need to be aware of how many school groups you have.

I hope this has been useful. There are probably other alternatives to this method but this is the way I have used and it works very well.

(Updated) Online / technology safety for parents (Presentation/Video included)


UPDATED – New presentation included

Last academic year we had several requests from parents for some information about online and technology safety.

Many parents felt like they were out of touch with technology and what it can do, as well as what was available on the internet.

In order to remedy this, myself and another member of staff set up a parent association evening. I have included some of what we have covered. Several of the slides have been removed as they link directly to files on the school server and would be inaccessibile.