Digital Citizenship: Two Perspectives on Using Social Media in Education

 In Classroom Practice

Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and whatever’s next, social media plays an integral part of most people’s lives these days. As an educator, it can be a challenge to keep track of what’s hot and what’s not – last year my students told me Facebook wasn’t ‘cool’ anymore – and it is an even bigger challenge to know when and how to use social media in education. There are a lot of questions floating around about the best practices for incorporating social media in education, the role of educators in modeling its appropriate use, and how to teach students to responsibly use it.

To answer these questions, we asked two social media rockstars, librarian Gwyneth Jones and administrator Tyler Tarver, about their approaches to using social media in their school and with their colleagues and students.


Gwyneth Jones

Gwyneth Jones

Gwyneth A. Jones, aka The Daring Librarian, is a blogger, a Tweeter, an international Ed Tech speaker, trope and meme archivist, creator of content, a citizen of advocacy, and a resident of social media. Gwyneth is a Google Certified Teacher, and the author of the award winning Daring Librarian blog. Jones is also a Library Journal Mover & Shaker, a Gale/Cengage New Leader, and was named the Best of the Best and a Visionary Leader by Teacher Librarian Magazine.

1. How do you use social media in both your professional and personal lives?

There are so many social media outlets out there to choose from – it could either be a minefield or a diamond mine in terms of connecting, sharing and creating your own Personal Learning Network or PLN.

I use social media only in a professional sense – to share the cool things that go on every day in my school and my library, to celebrate my amazing students, and to connect with my parents, and our local and our global community.

In other words, I have purposefully and intentionally NOT used Social Media in any kind of personal way. For some, that might seem like a sacrifice – for me, it’s been both a blessing and sort of a relief. That’s not to say, that I don’t occasionally share some personal stuff. I blogged about my Twitter formula and I’d say I share about 82% ed tech and library information, 8% pop culture (Bravo Housewives, movies, gentle mocking of the Kardashians) and just 4% personal stuff. I just don’t share personal stuff ALL the time. To me, that would be pointless, self-aggrandizing, and tiresome. I recently blogged about the difference sharing what’s professional, what’s personal and what’s private on social media. Sharing personal is fine – it shows you’re human! Sharing private information is just TMI and a little bit creepy. Twitter and Scoopit are my preferred social media tools and I recently added Instagram and Vine – because that’s where my kiddos are!

2. What is your philosophy on using social media in your school?

The only way I use Social Media IN school is to highlight and feature the amazing things that go on every day in our school. With Instagram and Vine tied to my Twitter I like to catch my students being AWESOME. From Shelfies (kids posing with books they’ve checked out) to Science projects, robotics, school plays, to our Makerspace – this is an opportunity to connect with the community. “We have the power to shift the mindset of the public sector if we shout out via social media the great things that kids do in our schools,” says Tony Sinanis and Dr. Joe Sanfelippo from the book The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story – and I dig that! I also blogged about it, sharing more thoughts on how you can be the best PR person for your school mainly by showing and shouting out the coolness!

3. What are some ways to teach students how to responsibly use social media?

By modeling good social media use, creating our own positive digital footprint, and celebrating the AWESOME that goes on in our school every day. Teaching by doing it. Teaching by living it – every day.

4. What is the best way to coach your peers into using social media?

By encouragement, PD coaching, and modeling. Also, when teachers DO join Twitter or other Social Media outlets, I try to be the first to follow them and to retweet and to pass on the cool content or everyday school moments that they are sharing!

5. How do you model appropriate behavior for using social media, for both fellow educators and students?

I think it’s important to keep your interactions on Social Media authentic, real, but always professional. Being positive, passionate, and upbeat is a good thing, too!

6. How can social media be used to teach digital literacy to students or to create digital citizens?

We have digital citizen classes in our school – with content created by the tech leaders of our district. I think again, the best way to teach is to be a good example – using social media in a positive, professional and ethical way. On social media you can push the positive and change the world, you can grow professionally by leaps and bounds… or you could get in really big trouble. Share thoughtfully, wisely, and well.


 

Tyler TarverTyler Tarver

Tyler Tarver was a public school principal for a couple years and is now the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Federal Programs, Technology, & Communications for a 4A School District in Arkansas. He runs a popular YouTube channel with videos that cover a range of topics, from math lessons to personal family events. Tyler is the author of three books, hosts a humor podcast called Talk Hugs, and speaks at national conferences and events.

1. How do you use social media in both your professional and personal lives?

Within our district, we use everything we can to address our students and constituency. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and our website are key players in this. We brag about every student and teacher we can. Personally, I use it to promote my YouTube education channels and photo/video work.

2. What is your philosophy on using social media in your school?

Use is as much as possible to brag about as many people as possible.

3. What are some ways to teach students how to responsibly use social media?

I have a presentation we use to inform students on responsible student internet usage.

4. What is the best way to coach your peers into using social media? 

We also provide this [presentation] for our teachers. We can summarize it to teachers by saying: stay positive, stay appropriate.

5. How do you model appropriate behavior for using social media, for both fellow educators and students?

Post things that are always positive or appropriate! I recommend people to text questionable materials to a conservative friend before posting to get another opinion.

6. How can social media be used to teach digital literacy to students or to create digital citizens?

That’s the world we’re in and it’s going to be even more intertwined in society in the coming years. We are in the process of creating courses and training for teachers and students to be responsible and informed! Post often and post great!!

Tyler created this awesome video about Snapchat. You can also check out his playlist about social media.


Thanks to Gwyneth and Tyler for providing great insight from the perspective of two different roles within education. You can connect with them on Twitter at @GwynethJones and @tylertarver.

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