Does your school use Facebook or other social media to communicate or teach?

Is your school administration or your school’s PTA using Facebook to communicate with parents? Are your teachers using social media in the classroom to help teach?

According to one website 90 percent of teachers are using social media in their classrooms or in their professional careers. I think that numbers seems high for in the classroom but I do think there are lots of opportunities to use social media and communicate with kids/teens in ways in which they are comfortable. Buzzom offers ideas for teachers such as:

“Use Facebook apps and groups like Flashcards and WeRead to make learning more enjoyable

• Use Twitter to post supplementary materials and links to articles and videos, so students can learn more about the subject even outside the class

• Follow other educators on Twitter to keep up with the latest teaching trends and get new ideas

• Allow students to use Pinterest for presentations and projects

• Record your lessons and post them on YouTube, so students can review them whenever they want.

• Create a class blog, and post weekly homework assignments on it.”

(The university encourages us to let the students live Tweet us questions. They think it would help if they are too shy to speak up but then how do I know if they are screwing around on Twitter instead of listening? I will try that this term and see how it goes. )

I think though a lot of the social media sites are blocked within the elementary school. I’m not sure about middle or high school. I love the idea of using Pinterest to collaborate on projects. But you’ve got to have a teacher and a district very comfortable with social media for these ideas to work.

Our school’s PTO (they say O instead of A) started an open page last spring and has been doing a great job updating it throughout the summer. They even posted to remind parents when a new booster seat law went into effect in Arizona.

(Just to make sure we’re all talking the same lingo: An open page or fan page on Facebook can be seen by anyone. You will see it on your feed if you “like” the page. You can also create a closed group where the page is private like your own Facebook profile. Families have to be invited to join or ask to join. You will still see the info in your feed but outsiders can’t see it.)

The PTO posts reminders about ordering your supply packs, spirit wear and signing up for the student directory. (I just asked a question on the page about that because I forgot to sign up but want to be included.) They posted the times and deadlines for meet the teacher. They also were asking parents to vote to get Target gift cards for the school.

They posted school photos from the first day. Some of the photos were parent submitted, and some were of the staff. I assume any posted of the students were done with the parent’s permission.  They also gave instructions on how to send your first-day photos to the yearbook organizer so they could be included.

The PTO and school both have websites but I think it’s a fast way to keep parents posted and to create community.

Last year we used a closed group for Rose’s class and that worked well for party planning. (Although I would leave the teacher off the site so you can discuss presents more easily.) What’s interesting is the parents are still using the page this year. We communicated about middle school pods and procedures on there.

I am going to email my kids’ teachers at the end of the week to see if they want me to set closed pages up for their class to use. I think it would be especially helpful for Rose’s pod in middle school where it’s four teachers.

Our swim team uses a closed group as well. It makes it very easy to ask questions about practice or meets.

Facebook knows that schools are using the platform to communicate with parents. It has created a page and downloadable information about how to create social media guidelines for your school.

So what do you think: Is Facebook a fast, easy way for the school  to communicate with parents? Would you rather check the website every few days or just see posts on Facebook? Is it not fair to folks not on Facebook? Are you worried about privacy for your children? Would you use a Facebook page for your class or team? Would you want it to be a closed group or open page?

How do you feel about using social media to teach? What methods would be effective for your kids or teens? If you are a teacher what have you used in your classroom?

79 comments Add your comment

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shaggy

August 9th, 2012
7:27 am

No, and if they did…their fartbook or tweeting would be falling on deaf ears and blind eyes here. If it became a problem for the boy, he would tell us, and then we would make some teacher’s life very miserable. But that is not necessary.

We have no helicopter here, and the boy has grown to be quite the independent one. He is in a non-traditional school that I won’t even begin to describe here…too many exploding heads would result from even knowing this kind of education was possible. Let’s just say, he is on the edge regularly, and math/science plays a huge role.

Kat

August 9th, 2012
8:23 am

Barring the outstanding achievements of Shaggy, Jr., I would just be happy if the teachers at my kids’ school would consider updating their blogs from the 2010-2011 school year. I think they just leave it up all the time since it goes Week 1, Week 2…

Kat

August 9th, 2012
8:23 am

BTW: I HATE the parents at Sneak-a-Peek! They act like it is a day-after Thanksgiving sale!

mom2alex&max

August 9th, 2012
8:41 am

No they don’t! They have a web site through the school, but most are VERY sporadic with the updates. I wish they would use social media!

[...] notified of events and enter into more of a dialogue with the teachers. In the US, there have been PTO’s who created closed Facebook pages to keep parents and students notified. This has appeared to [...]

Augusta

August 9th, 2012
8:47 am

No thank you!!! Social media is SOCIAL. I don’t care to be social with my kids’ teachers. They are there to teach, not be social. I don’t want school stuff all over my facebook for others to see.

And tweeting….I have no clue.

As Shaggy so elequently stated, if there is a problem, the school will contact me via telephone service or email. That’s the only information, other than our email, that the school needs.

I don’t give out a lot of personal information. Facebook is for friends and family, and I still don’t put a lot out there.

shaggy

August 9th, 2012
9:09 am

Kat,

Thank You <<<<>>>> bows to his adoring fan.
One day you will be my subject, and I, shaggy jr., will rule with an iron fist…until I am overthrown in a bloody coup that results in many of my subjects turning up dead in a long and pointless war, fought with water pistol filled with ebola..
Oh well and oops….

motherjanegoose

August 9th, 2012
9:11 am

@ Kat, when our son was a Senior in HS and lived at home ( 2004-2005) I thought he could offer to help the local teachers update and put things together for say $20, as I know several teachers. He talked with a few and was told that they had attended a class so they should be handle things themselves. ( No Facebook or Twitter then) Months later the same things were still out there and some still had nothing. In fairness, my daughter handles all of my things and I pay her now. I am not good at it and she is. Seems like they could have someone at each school who would handle this. I would be happy to pay $10-$15 a week to a trusted HS student to put my things together. If the said student had 10 teachers, this would be a nice part time job…don’t you think? Perhaps they are concerned about security and I do understand that.

Techmom

August 9th, 2012
9:19 am

Time to get with the program people. Social Media is an excellent way to keep parents and students up to date. Sure everyone needs to take precautions about what they share but if you understand privacy rights and keep up with them (and don’t post stuff that’s going to get your identity stolen), there’s no reason to be paranoid.

My son’s school has a FB page. Most of the updates are simply reminders which are sent out in the weekly newsletter (spirit night, which athletic teams are competing that day, band concerts, plays, etc.) The school also has a Twitter page but it’s the same info they put on FB. None of his classes/teachers have individual pages.

We use an open group for our church youth group and a closed group for the adult leaders. It’s simply an easy way to communicate with lots of people when you aren’t together all the time. People can comment on posts and then everyone can see it & respond. It simply keeps everyone on the same page.

Also, just an observation: although a lot of my son’s friends have FB pages, more of them have shifted to Twitter in the past 6 months.

TWG, I’m not sure about the “live” Tweeting of questions. I would find that distracting. Although we’ve played games at youth where kids have to respond via text or Tweet, I’m not sure how useful that is in a school environment unless you’re in a big auditorium. For classroom-size discussion, I think raising your hand is fine. How else do people ever learn to ask questions and be a part of a group if they are constantly allowed to hide behind their phone and never speak up??

A

August 9th, 2012
9:27 am

There are a few of us parents out there who are not on Facebook and have zero interest in joining, so I hope schools and teachers don’t rely exclusively on FB for communication. Otherwise some of us would never know what’s going on. I like receiving emails and if it’s really important, a note in the school folder never hurts since we check that every afternoon.

But, Techmom...

August 9th, 2012
9:28 am

…what if you are adamantly opposed to all things “social network” and DO NOT have Facebook, twitter, etc? I think the whole “social thing” is goofy…this is one program of which I will not get…

FCM

August 9th, 2012
9:45 am

Our CHURCH uses Twitter and Facebook to let the youth (MS & HS) know what is upcoming.

Momtoktb

August 9th, 2012
9:53 am

@But, Techmom… Amen!!

Techmom

August 9th, 2012
10:07 am

“The illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

I know there are people out there who aren’t on social media sites but you’re becoming the minority very quickly. Remember how your parents/grandparents didn’t want to embrace new technology? Maybe it was the VCR or DVD player or maybe it was a computer, the internet, email or a cell phone… but either way, you’re becoming your parents/grandparents!! There is nothing inherently wrong with embracing new technology. No one said you needed to spend hours a day on FB, I’m just saying that some of you are missing an opportunity to keep up with technology.

And what happens when your kids start using it? How are you going to be able to monitor them if you don’t know anything about ti? And don’t tell me you will never let your kids get an account! Better for you to be on the social sites that your kids are on so you can monitor them versus them having free reign.

What will you do when your kids get older and move away and ONLY share pictures of your grandkids via social media? I’ll bet you’ll embrace it then!

Augusta

August 9th, 2012
10:18 am

Techmon – do you own stock in twitter or FB???? LOL
I have a facebook page, but I limit it. I don’t “like” those ads on the right side, I don’t “join” any groups, etc. Strictly for my FRIENDS and a few family members. I’m very selective about what pictures I post too……

Just because some don’t want to be like everyone else (you remember individuality, right), does NOT mean someone is scared, or avoiding modern technology. Some prefer face to face conversations, or the gold old fashioned phone. My mother refuses to use a Facebook page, even tho the kids have set one up for her……

I’m glad it works for you, and you seem to enjoy social media, but not everyone is eager to be that social on the internet, and I’m one of them. The internet IS a scary thing……I have co-workers who refuse to do on-line banking, or pay their bills on line. They still write those things called checks and mail them in…..

Techmom

August 9th, 2012
10:28 am

No, I don’t Augusta, I am just continually baffled by the number of parents who want to live under a rock when it comes to technology. I work with plenty of kids at church who have these accounts and post all kinds of crazy things and would be much better off if their parents actually were on FB and monitoring what they post.

Augusta

August 9th, 2012
10:31 am

jarvis

August 9th, 2012
10:32 am

People hesitant to use new technologies will find that they are left out.

My wife’s grandmother (who I adored by the way) quite work in the mid-80’s when they got rid of her typewriter and replaced it with a computer.

You will seem just as absurd as that story when your grandkids hear that you refused to communicate using social media. It’s like refusing to get a telephone.

jarvis

August 9th, 2012
10:32 am

or “quit” as it were.

A

August 9th, 2012
10:45 am

@Techmom, I actually work in the tech (telecom) field, and yet the only social media I have embraced is LinkedIn. I am probably missing out on a lot in terms of knowing what friends are up to, etc. but to be honest it hasn’t impacted my life at all. I don’t avoid new tech: we have iPhone/iPad/DVR, all the modern comforts and gadgets. It’s just social media that doesn’t appeal to me for a lot of reasons. And who knows if FB will even be around in 5-10 years!

catlady

August 9th, 2012
10:55 am

I don’t do Facebook, so I am unaware of what it might say. (If I have info I want to share, I talk to the person or write them a note. Our system uses robo-calls for inclement weather and texts teachers info.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 9th, 2012
10:59 am

Techmom — i agree with you that I think it can be very valuable. All the sites are blocked in our schools. Are they blocked in the middle and high school other than phones??

Facebook has really helped me connect with my new neighbors out here and new moms that I meet. it feels less intrusive to message or write on their page than to call them.

Techmom

August 9th, 2012
11:02 am

A – FB may not be around but that really wasn’t my point. My point is that so many parents appear to be afraid social media and that is not going away. Social Media has become a multi-billion dollar industry and if predictions hold true, it will continue to grow and continue to be a part of our lives in the future.

I have a high schooler now and I see how much it’s a part of his generation’s every day lives. I doubt we’ll be going backward and have less use as the next generation of kids grows up. So if you have a pre-schooler and don’t want to be on FB now, then fine. But when they’re 12 or 14 and the next greatest thing comes along, are you going to have the same attitude?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 9th, 2012
11:04 am

Every year I have offered my kids teachers to teach the kids how to use Wordpress for a class blog or them to have individual blogs. The blog software is free and hosted for free and can be protected where only those with the links can find it. And not a single one has taken me up on it. I think it would be a modern way for the kids to do writing assignments and a technology they can use in the future. The teacher could check it from home or school just like I grade my university students. Not a single teacher has taken me up on it — even the gifted teachers. I think the kids would love it. Rose’s 6th grade English teacher seemed interested. I wrote down all the info for her. Maybe she’ll embrace it. The kids could use it all year long. They could set it up in the computer lab or just have one class one where the kids could take turns being the author. What fun to be responsible for the blog and to update for all your class and parents to read. But alas no takers — yet!

shaggy

August 9th, 2012
11:08 am

Techmom,

We are VERY adept with telecom, just hate the products.
Crowd following is just not for the shaggys, and there is a reason that I have not been in contact with someone since the 70’s…we didn’t hit it off then, so why waste time now?
If I want to make a new friend, I just open my mouth and say…Hi, Hello, It sure is nice weather we are having-except for that tornado thing that seems to have leveled your house, Get out of my yard, Honey-hand me the shootin iron…he won’t get out of the yard…. we DO have fun.

Techmom

August 9th, 2012
11:11 am

TWG – I’ll ask my son when he gets home if social media sites are blocked on the school network (he goes to a private school so it might be different at his school than most). His school has a new technology policy this year that allows students in grades 5-12 to bring laptops, iPads, e-readers, etc. to class and they have a wireless network so I am curious if they’ve made any additional restrictions on which sites are available and which aren’t.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 9th, 2012
11:23 am

Techmom — i think that is a very advance, open-minded school. the university kids bring laptops even though we are working in a lab with 20 computers every class. only problem is they are on facebook sometimes when i am talking. one time one guy was on when we had a guest and i stopped the guy via skype (he was looking directly at the guy) to apologize and scold the student. so rude that our guest was taking his time to talk to them and then he was screwing around on facebook. I am going to make a deal about that this year when I start back. We are teaching social media in the class but they don’t need to be on their individual page.

bytestalker

August 9th, 2012
11:55 am

My wife teaches in the middle schools and her school district heavily discourages the use of social media that will include parents or students. You can lose your job over a picture on Facebook of you holding a drink (did happen in GA). Also the abuse of information by parents and students with a grudge is rampant. My wife does have a web page provided by the District with all the pertinent class information available and the District does supply a system that updates classroom grades and messaging for the parents. Beyond that she doesn’t have enough time in the day to handle updating and using social sites along with the workload of the classroom. Plus you can’t use any blog for a classroom that could result in anyone other than the student viewing the entry, unless you want to be sued for disclosing personal information. Heck, they can’t even take a picture in the classroom or use any child’s name in any written context without expressed written consent of the parents.

Judge Smails

August 9th, 2012
12:12 pm

My daughters homeroom teacher sends out a weekly blurb in which she lists all of the activities and assignments for the week for all classes. I print it and post it on the refrigerator for all to see. It works very well and there is no need to tweet or FB anyone.

We set very strict guidelines on social media and I do not want my child having that much interaction with the teachers.

jarvis

August 9th, 2012
12:13 pm

Twitter is the way to go for updating on the happenings in the classroom.
The parents can either follow or not follow. No pictures needed…just Tweet the necessaries.

FCM

August 9th, 2012
12:15 pm

“Create a class blog, and post weekly homework assignments on it.”

In Middle School all the assignments are on the blog. What they are learning etc. I can even check her grades online.

In Elementary we are lucky if they updated once a month….I HATE HATE HATE that b/c most of us are all online at some point.

I think we should have those dang open houses online too. (But then I have said before I hate the preceeding PTA pep-rally). I will support the school and my child…but linking the PTA meeting an open house (which is usually a RIGHTFULLY tired teacher reading from a Power Point or handout) is just mean!

Besides, email and blogs are the only way I want to hear from the teacher.

jarvis

August 9th, 2012
12:15 pm

Smails, that’s what’s nice about Twitter. It’s all public communication. Nothing secretive.

all the time

August 9th, 2012
12:18 pm

Because of privacy issues there is NO WAY social media should be used for this purpose. This is so wrong in so many ways. As it is, I will not use social media at all beause of this. I have an office co-worked who is barely inches away from being a total stalker – he has seached and discovered the last names of my children AND regularly searches their school sites. Not long ago he was asking me about the type of glasses one of my boys wears – the photo-gray kind – he had found a picture of my kid with the lenses darkened, which would have meant getting into the school site and looing around for a while. I have no interest in discussing my kids with this guy and would like my kids activities to remain Private; they are not public figures and nobody has the right to send out details on them without regard to who is affected.

jarvis

August 9th, 2012
12:18 pm

P.S. Blogging isn’t for the young. It’s too long.

HB

August 9th, 2012
12:46 pm

I love social media and use it a lot, but I don’t think refusing to sign up for FB is the equivalent of shunning technology for two reasons: 1) you can embrace technology and even some social media (like this blog) without being willing to share your personal info with the big social networks and 2) when you expect someone to join a group, you are not just asking them to be on social media, you are asking them to patronize a particular company. A person can be a social media user but for whatever reason be comfortable using Google+ but not FB or vice versa.

BlondeHoney

August 9th, 2012
12:56 pm

Agree 200% with TechMom; even my parents in their 70’s are avid FB users. My family is scattered all over the country, from Seattle & San Francisco to Massachusetts to Florida and it’s one of the ways we keep close (Skype is another). Mom & Dad get to see the latest pix of their grandkids & soon their great-grandchild. Heck, my great uncle who is almost 90 has his own FB page. Social media is here to stay in whatever form it takes, now or in the future.

What shaggy said...

August 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

…just because I choose not to participate in FB or other social media does not mean I am a pariah or outcast (except in Techmom’s mind), or that I am not technologically adept – and she is just so wrong in her condemnation of those who choose not to participate – even going so far as to insinuate that we are bad parents who are probably not keeping up with our kids – shame on her for suggesting such a thing just because we do not embrace all that SHE finds acceptable…

By the way, my kids use FB and other social media all the time, but I choose not to – and, if your kids do not accept you as a “friend”, but see you as a stalker, you cannot keep up with them anyway – there are many ways to keep mom and dad off one’s FB page, – evidently Techmom may not know everything she thinks she knows…

You cannot "agree 200%"...

August 9th, 2012
1:04 pm

…in fact, it is not possible to do anything more than 100% – guess they did not teach that in the social media class you took, nor in your math class, either…

You cannot "agree 200%"...

August 9th, 2012
1:05 pm

Enter your comments here

catlady

August 9th, 2012
1:09 pm

You can’t: We call that hyperbole. A literary device.

BlondeHoney

August 9th, 2012
1:18 pm

@You cannot Agree…ever heard of a figure of speech? I guess you didn’t learn that in your English class…

Becky

August 9th, 2012
1:38 pm

I have a FB page, BUT would not want to hear from teachers about school work, grades or anything related to school on FB…I’m not afraid of technology, I just prefer old school ways of doing things..

Well, DUH, catlady and BlondeHoney...

August 9th, 2012
2:01 pm

…ever heard of sarcasm – oh yeah, not sure about catlady, but I can understand “Blonde”Honey not understanding (that was sarcasm and hyoperbole all rolled into one, by the way)…

catlady

August 9th, 2012
2:06 pm

Oh, good. Thanks, DUH.

jarvis

August 9th, 2012
2:15 pm

I thought sarcasm was supposed to be funny.

Jarvis must have gone to Tech......

August 9th, 2012
2:18 pm

…”Sarcasm is “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt”,[1] usually conveyed through irony or understatement” — nothing funny about this definition…

Techmom

August 9th, 2012
2:33 pm

@What shaggy said… I suggest you re-read my posts.
This blog is for discussion and for people to post different points of view. Because you got offended by my position does not mean that I actually condemned YOU. I simply believe that social media and the use of technology is here to stay and ignoring it is not going to make it go away for anyone or their children. I do think there are parents who are afraid of social media and have no clue what their kids are posting. I have had countless conversations with my son, his friends, kids in our youth group and even younger cousins in our family about what is appropriate and what is not b/c their parents don’t know what they’re doing (and no, most of them are not smart enough to ‘hide’ me so I do see what they post).

AND by the way, I do know what’s going on with my son and what he posts for the most part. I’m not sticking my head in the sand and saying I know everything b/c I don’t stay logged into his accounts constantly nor do I check his cell phone daily but I have his passwords and regularly log on to his account to make sure his security settings are up to date and check out his recent activity. The rule is that if he changes his password, he has to tell me or I will shut down all of his access. And yes, I do troll – that’s my job as a parent!

Sorry, Techmom...

August 9th, 2012
2:39 pm

…but your head is in the sand if your really think “The rule is that if he changes his password, he has to tell me or I will shut down all of his access” and he only has ONE access…anybody can get multiple email addresses via gmail, yahoo, etc….But, your son would never do anything like that – yes, that is sarcasm (for BlondeHoney)…

Techmom

August 9th, 2012
2:44 pm

@Sorry – So tell me what your solution is in a day and age when social media is prevalent? How should parents handle it?