Want to be Your District's ‘Social Media Trailblazer’?

March 12, 2013
Kelsey Herron
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, United States
CATEGORIES Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, In the Classroom

Here at Common Sense Media, we’re big proponents of providing ample training and resources to school officials on digital technologies. Teachers often already have packed daily schedules, larger student groups, and limited classroom time to complete their lesson plans without having to worry about integrating new digital platforms into their curriculums. To offer schools a bit of guidance on what could be a new experience for some, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) created a free toolkit aimed to help administrators navigate their use of social media.

The kit, designed specifically for “principals, staff, and community,” contains helpful videos, documents, and links to outside resources that can help school officials use social media to connect with their local communities.

The school system worked with its digital director Alex Soble to help meet educators’ specific needs. Their collaboration yielded the Social Media Trailblazer series, a video collection that covers specific social media related topics—also available in the new toolkit. The series covers a range of topics, including how to use Twitter to send mass text messages and maintaining school Twitter feeds.

“If you're not using social media to communicate with stakeholders, then you're missing such an important part of the conversation," said Soble to Education Week blogger Mike Block. According to Block, Soble said the main goal of the toolkit is to get principals thinking about best practices for social media use within their schools’ communities.

The toolkit also provides thorough “thought exercises” for principals looking to develop a social media presence for their school, focusing on three specific points of guidance:

·       It should be left to the school’s principal to authorize an official school social media page.

·       Principals who authorize a school social media presence are ultimately responsible for its content and maintenance.

·       They should carefully consider who will maintain these social media pages before making their final decision.

This new resource emerged with additional CPS developments. Earlier in February, the school system began allowing teachers to access YouTube for educational use in the classroom, and CPS is also taking part in a new Consortium for School Networking initiative that uses mobile technologies to increase participatory learning.

It is clear that the CPS system is making strides when it comes to advancing its policies to provide teachers with the resources they need to be more successful as mobile technologies become classroom staples. For additional information on their new toolkit, feel free to contact their Office of Communications, or share your ideas with Soble directly via email or Twitter @alexsoble.