The Power of the Online Community

There are still too many who seem to think that it is not yet time for our school to take our first small step into the world of social media. We are still at the stage of discussing what Twitter  is and how it differs from Facebook. We almost had agreement to use Twitter as a College when this was overshadowed by the discussion about what recently happened to Target via Facebook. A real fear was expressed about what might happen to us if we started to use Twitter to inform the community about what we are doing.

It is hard for me to listen to some of the arguments about social media when we, as a College, have only ever reacted to something that the students have done via some form of social media. Other than this reaction it simply doesn’t exist in our world. It was at this point I then became quite animated in trying to explain that we really need to be proactive and have a policy about how we approach all aspects of social media. We need to be clear about what our stance is and inform the whole College community, students, parents and staff,  rather than leaving it until we have to react to (usually) some inappropriate use.

Last week before a meeting I sent everyone a Diigo list of some sites that have information about social media policies, how to develop policies and about teaching good social media skills to students. It is not exhaustive but I thought it might give a basis for discussion. I annotated the list so that all recipients could decide which ones might be of most interest if they did not have time or want to read all of the sites. No-one had looked at any of them. It is not easy to explain Twitter and Facebook to people who only know about these tools from media reports (read here newspaper and television news programs).

How to explain the importance of social media today and especially the importance of social media in the lives of our younger people? We have all seen the power of social media in all sorts of ways, good and bad. How to help our students themselves understand the ramifications if they are not using social media well? How to help them develop the ability to find depth when they need it rather than just breadth? We have no policies about acceptable use, good digital citizenship. Some teachers have developed some policies in isolation. The upshot is that I am now part of a group that is going to develop a social media policy for our college. (Advice and ideas welcome)

No-one can control the internet, where knowledge is power and a little knowledge can be spread in many ways. With a better understanding how it works, an astute person can make it work better for them. Nothing is perfect but pretending something isn’t there is not helping anyone and social media is not going away. The tools today will change or will morph into other forms or totally new forms/tools will emerge. For good or bad, the genie is out of the box.

I like the infographic below about the power of the online world, simple but effective. From  a post found here via a tweet from Joyce Valenza.
Power To The Online People

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