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District 203 Moves Forward with Social Media, Communications Policy

School officials seeking to incorporate new technology in an appropriate manner.

Some communication between teachers and students is never appropriate, such as one-on-one through Facebook or text messages.

But officials at realize that social media communication is here to stay and can be beneficial for its students. The district is working to find a balance between encouraging the positive use of technology, while limiting any inappropriate use.

The district is in the process of creating a district-wide policy for the use of social media. Roger Brunelle, the district's chief information officer and Susan Rice, the district’s communications director presented an update on the process and recommendations to the board of education on Monday night. The board does not need to vote on the policy, but has remained informed.

Since the proposed social media policy in October and getting some guidance from the board, district officials have sat down with parents, teachers, cabinet members, principals and activity directors to gather feedback, Brunelle and Rice explained. Changes to the proposed policy reflect the information gathered during discussions with stakeholders.

The district re-evaluated and expanded its social media communication template to include:

  • District employees
  • Students K-5
  • Students 6-12
  • Individual parent/guardian
  • District volunteers
  • The general public

The key elements to the communication policy that must be taken into consideration at all times are:

  • Is the communication transparent. Knowing the communication may be viewed by others and is not private.
  • Is it accessible: All communications must be considered a matter of record.
  • Is it professional: All communications should be written keeping in mind the tone and word choice that is professional and in line with district expectations of employees.
  • Is it ethical: All communication should comply with board guidelines and be free of harassing or intimidating content.

Teachers will be able to incorporate social media into the classroom but how that happens will vary based on grade level, Brunelle and Rice said.

For example the use of YouTube would have some restrictions for teachers of students in K-5. Since the site can have links to questionable content, the teacher would be required to download the video and embed it in another document, such as a PowerPoint presentation, so that the students are not exposed to the originating site. Access for students in grades 6-12 would be allowed.

The use of some social media will require district approval. One of the next steps to be taken is to create an approval process and to educate the school community about the policy and the process, Rice said.

 

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