Sunday, May 22, 2016

Stop Fighting Social Media. Start Working with Students + Teachers to Integrate It Into Learning!

Many students and teachers are in districts like Wake County where they are subjected to policies, guidelines, and mandates that they rarely have any say in. It doesn’t have to be that way and in New York City it isn’t. Instead the newly released social media guidelines for students 12 and younger incorporated the participatory design process and were developed with rather than for students and teachers. These guidelines serve as a companion to the 13 and older guidelines and have been positively received by stakeholders.  

When we spoke with teens for the 13+ guidelines they provided useful input. They said they wanted the guidelines in infographic form as that is how they like to consume information. They also said they wanted to hear from real-world experts and that they wanted relevant stats cited. They wanted the district to recognize that students are using social media for academic and career success and respect their use of these platforms.  The resulting guidelines which got the thumbs up from teens, incorporated all feedback.  

Pre-teens wanted something different.  They said they’d prefer to have the guidelines in an activity book format. They told us their favorite uses of social media. This included making  movies in MovieStar Planet, watching YouTube videos, and having discussions on learning platforms like Edmodo, Schoology, and Google Classroom.  They were concerned about students being kind to one another and wanted to ensure no one’s feelings are hurt because of what takes on social media.

The resulting guidelines incorporated their feedback and were created in the suggested format. The activity book contains fortune teller games, crossword puzzles, word search, and more. Teachers tested them on students and the students were pleased with the results.  
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The guidelines help teachers and parents become comfortable with using social media to support student success in career, college and citizenship. In addition to the guidelines there are also parent and teacher guides for primary and secondary school aged children as well as professional development for teachers, parent coordinators, and guidance counselors.  You can access everything at

The guidelines and accompanying materials were developed in partnership with Common Sense Education and teachers who participated in the Social Media Affinity Group made possible by the This group of educators came together throughout the year to create materials and provide feedback and insights from themselves and their students. Here are some pictures of the hard-working and dedicated group members.

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?

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