Friday, August 7, 2015

Intentional Use of Social Media

How many Twitter accounts do you have? What are your intentions for each of those accounts? Managing multiple accounts can be confusing at times and can get tricky after the lines get blurred between the different accounts.

I heard a keynote speaker recently say that one social media account is enough. All our content should be posted via that singular account and that should encompass all we do - day in, day out. And I 100% disagree.

I disagree because when you keep everything in one account, you've done a disservice to your audience and you're not using technology in an intentional way.  Let's break down why a teacher would want THREE Twitter accounts.

The Personal Account
A teacher could create a personal Twitter account for things that are not directly work related such as family, companies, stores, restaurants, sports teams, news, politics, etc. Twitter is a fun and easy way to interact with these kinds of accounts. Tweets such as family updates, a great dinner, weekend plans, or supporting a political candidate are some of the things being sent across personal accounts. A teacher can tweet about these topics and the users who have subscribed / followed will see the tweets in their news feed. The users who have subscribed understand the intention behind this kind of account; they expect to see personal content. It then makes sense why she would not want to identify her employer and the specifics about her campus. Her personal views are not necessarily that of her employer.

The Professional Account
A teacher could create a professional Twitter account to follow other educators and grow a professional learning network. Lifelong learners find other lifelong learners and Twitter is an easy way to stay connected and learn from each other. Participating in edchats, sharing news about an educational app /  site, brainstorming with other colleagues, or sharing teacher related materials are just a few benefits to having a professional Twitter account. If this teacher leaves her current position, her professional Twitter account goes with her and her learning network remains intact. The users who have subscribed understand the educational intention behind this account; fellow teachers will expect to see educational content from this professional account. The professional account doesn't directly involve students; it directly benefits the students but they don't participate in that account. My students don't participate in our staff meetings but they do receive the benefits of what I learn in staff meetings and the same goes for my professional Twitter account.

The Classroom Account
Before creating a classroom or school account, check with your administrator and your district's acceptable use guidelines regarding social media with students. Also, I strongly suggest you become familiar with the Federal Trade Commission's COPPA to understand the legal reasons behind why a child under the age of 13 cannot have certain social media accounts. In my district, a teacher can create a school / classroom account to share school / classroom events. This account is labeled with the school name, grade level, subject area, or other identifying information and principals are given the username and password. This account is covered by the media release form parents sign at the beginning of the year which means staff can post pictures of students whose parents give permission. School logos and mascots can be used, too. The users who have subscribed to this account understand the nature of it and expect to see classroom events, advertising for a school fund raiser, parent reminders, showcasing student work, classrooms connecting with other classrooms, and even bragging on the awesome students (which I encourage.) If a teacher leaves this position, the classroom account stays at the school and is passed on to the incoming teacher.

So that leads to my most commonly asked question, "Which one should parents and / or students follow?"
My answer, "Any!" The same rules apply to all the accounts. We must always be good digital citizens and, even if the account is locked, be mindful that it's a public forum. We must model how to use technology to learn and how to be a respectful, empathetic digital citizens.

Rather then send all your information down one chute, it's important in this information age to categorize and classify your updates into the proper channels so that the audience members who have subscribed get what they were promised. It's important to be mindful of your intent when creating and using social media.