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educator’s guide to online communicaation tools


winter 2017               NEWSLETTER

How do you use Social Media?

Be Tech Smart - Personally

Even after the school bell rings, educators’ actions may be seen as representative of their schools and their profession. In fact, many states demand that teachers uphold a certain level of conduct whether inside or outside of the classroom. If an educator’s conduct is seen as “unbecoming of the profession,” he or she may be dismissed. And with the rise of social media use, “outside of the classroom” has come to include teachers’ posts to personal social media sites, blogs, image-sharing sites, and other online communication sites.

Educators should remember that content shared online can easily become public, and take steps to protect themselves such as:

• Carefully considering comments and images before posting them online

• Using the privacy settings on social media sites, blogs, image-sharing sites, and other online communication tools

• Using different social media sites in- and outside of the classroom or keeping separate profiles for personal and professional use

• Not friending colleagues, students, and parents or giving them access to personal blogs and image-sharing sites

• Being careful about job-related posts—especially those involving students. Don’t post anything that is negative or divulges sensitive information, or information that could be used to individually identify a student

• Not making personal posts during school hours or with school- or district-owned devices


• Not posting content about sex, alcohol, or anything else that you wouldn’t want your students, their parents, or administrators to see


Be Tech Smart - Professionally

Many educators are using Internet communication tools to integrate 21st century skills into their lesson plans. While the benefits are numerous, they should be vigilant against unprofessional contact with students online. Otherwise, educators may face legal consequences in addition to jeopardizing their employment. Reduce possible miscommunications by being as transparent as possible; for example, log all online interactions with students. Limit other misunderstandings by:

Talking to administrators

• Know your school/district polices on the use of online communication tools or help your school develop a policy if it does not have one

• Give them access to class social media pages, blogs, etc.

• Discuss procedures for reporting student disclosures or conversations with potentially inappropriate content


Talking to students

• Discuss proper etiquette for communicating online, including your guidelines for acceptable language and content

• Warn them that online communications are being logged and saved

• Let them know that you must report disclosures of maltreatment or illegal activities to school administrators

Talking to parents

• Get their consent before using online communication tools

• Invite them to view class pages and other online communications where appropriate

(You can find this information and more at

Use this Checklist to Help Your Students Use Social Media



The following checklist can help students    take steps to keep themselves safer online.


* Check your comments and images.

Have you posted anything inappropriate or illegal, like threats, nudity, alcohol, or drugs?

*Talk to your friends about what’s OK to post.

Agree that you won’t post embarrassing or hurtful comments or images of each other.

*Be clear that you’ll delete – or if needed, report – any posts that are inappropriate, illegal, or threatening or could get you in trouble.

*Review your account settings.

Go through each option slowly. Always ask yourself – what is on my profile and who can see it?

*Know your friends, contacts, and followers.

These are the people who can see, share, and comment on what you post so you want to be sure you can trust them.  Block and report anyone who makes harassing, threatening, or inappropriate comments.

*Keep an eye on 3rd party apps.

Some of these apps will give companies access to your personal information. Always read the fine print before deciding to add one.

*Don’t forget mobile.

When you use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to post something or check in, you could also be sharing your location. Check your settings to make sure you’re only sharing what you want to.



You have the right to be safe online. If anyone cyberbullies you, speak to a parent or teacher who you trust and make a report to the website or app. If anyone shares or asks you to share sexual messages or images, make a report to

(This information is from




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