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Sunday, December 29, 2013

NYC blazes trails to prepare students for success with new social media guidelines

While some school districts have banned the use of social media because of fears of inappropriate use and distracting students, in an unprecedented move, the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) has reached out to students, teachers, and parents as partners to create guidelines for the appropriate use of social media for personal and academic purposes.  



According to the NYC DOE website, the guidelines are necessary because, “In an increasingly digital world, we seek to offer our students the opportunities that multi-media learning can provide, which is why we allow and encourage the appropriate use of these powerful resources. As we challenge our students with new methods of learning, we continue to ensure that these tools are used responsibly, and enrich the learning environment in our schools.”

They add, “It is important for school and central staff to use tools like social networks, blogs, websites, and other online media in a way that protects the privacy and safety of our students and employees.”

The social media guidelines for employees were released nearly two years ago and include updates that incorporate feedback received from educators. As stated on the website, “It is our job as educators to understand digital tools and help our students responsibly navigate this world.”

This work is taken seriously. These guidelines aren’t just published and placed on a website in hopes that someone will read them. The NYC DOE provides professional development to staff interested in incorporating these guidelines into teaching and learning with classes such as “Using social media to increase teacher effectiveness,” “Supporting the common core with  social media," and "A Common Sense approach to prevent cyberbullying."

As teachers across the city become comfortable with using social media and understand its importance for student success in career, college and citizenship, it was time to create social media guidelines for students. The guidelines are being rolled out in 2014 with professional development and guides for parents and teachers.

It is exciting that the nation’s largest district is taking a stand and not only embracing the resources our students will need for success, but also providing support in doing so. This positions the NYC DOE as a pioneering district that is leading the way for others to follow. 

How does your district guide educators, parents, and students in the use of social media?