On the Thursday evening at ULearn I attended the launch of the Teachers and Social Media website, developed by the NZ Teachers Council. Illustrated at right are Alison McAlpine (Chair of the Teachers Council) addressing the group, and TC director, Dr Peter Lind.
I've had the privilege of working with this group over the past 6 months as the guidelines were put together, and am very pleased with the result. As the use of social media is increasing among both students and staff in schools, it has become abundantly clear that such guidelines are required. The challenge has been in balancing the two perspectives on their use. On the one hand, there has been a lot of inappropriate use reported both privately and publicly, leading some to want to focus more on the 'don'ts' and rules. On the other hand there are many examples of where social media, used appropriately, is re-shaping the experiences of many in terms of making and maintaining connections with others in ways that support learning.
In the end I believe we've come up with the right balance in the guidlelines, aligning them strongly with the Teachers Council Code of Ethics for teachers, and so emphasising the matter of responsible and ethical use, rather than a set of concrete rules or guidelines.
In each of the sections there is a short animated movie that has been created to be used as a starter for discussions with teachers (and students) – such as the one below from the section on commitment to learners. These videos illustrate the approach advocated by these guidelines – that is, one of dialogue and community-driven decision making. I look forward to seeing how they are used in schools around the country.