Can you remember life before social media? We could express ourselves in more than 140 characters, no one really knew or cared about what we were eating, ‘posting a photo’ involved a printer and a trip to the postbox and trolls were merely mythical creatures that existed only in fairytales. Social Media has brought with it many benefits, allowing us to exist in a 24/7, borderless world where we can access information, stay connected with other people and promote our businesses and services. Social Media has, however, come with its issues, that in the workplace, must be stringently addressed in order to safeguard those in your community. Here we will highlight three things you can do to strengthen your approach to Social Media in the workplace. (please note that this article is written in the context of a school and aimed at staffing level).
Include a robust and up to date social media policy in the staff code of conduct.
A robust code of conduct will address the concept and importance of professional boundaries in the online space, have a clear awareness of what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate communication with students online as well as clear direction on how to protect your online data and privacy. It is also imperative that the policy is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it is relevant in the ever-changing social media climate. In 2011, QCAT heard a case about an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student that started and escalated due to inappropriate communication via sms, email and social media. Other things to be aware of in the Christian School context are when teachers may also be volunteers at a church that students also attend.
Have a clear and informed policy regarding mobile phone use during school hours.
Although mobile phones within schools are not necessarily a new thing, technology is moving quickly and the potential risk they pose is increasing. For example, with the integration of Augmented Reality (AR) into many apps as the norm, a secret photo of a teacher, visitor or student in the classroom or playground is not as harmless as it may seem. AR allows users to insert almost anything into the picture and as a result, can be very compromising. In ALL Government school in Victoria and Western Australia as well as Primary Schools in New South Wales, students who choose to bring mobile phones to school must have them switched off and securely stored during school hours. The Victorian Department of Education’s website states ‘research has found that mobile phones can be disruptive in classrooms and open to misuse at school. The unregulated presence of mobile phones in classrooms can undermine students’ capacity to think, learn, remember, pay attention and regulate emotion’.
Provide regular training on the latest trends and technology.
Staying up to date with the changes in social media can sometimes be like trying to stay up to date with the weather in Melbourne. I’m sure that the ever-changing realm of social media is not in the forefront of your mind; however, the impacts of these changes can affect your school in many different ways. It’s therefore imperative that your school reflects best practice and is up to date with the evolution of social media. To stay updated, we at BrightEd can provide your school staff with professional development as well as advice and consultancy at a management level to ensure that those within your community are as as safe possible on social media.
If you have any questions about anything, you may have read or would like to know more, get in touch with us at Bright ED media.