A few months back, Jason Ramsden, Eric Sheninger and I asked our collective networks to answer two simple questions:

What do you see as the potential rewards of using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook in schools?

What do you see as the potential pitfalls of using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook in Schools?

Your responses were pretty darn interesting—and might serve as a valuable introduction for school leaders who are just beginning to think about social media in schools.

Here are five of my favorite responses to both questions:

Potential rewards of using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook in schools:

Patrick Larkin:  Social Media is a great way to communicate with all of the stakeholders in your community. It is also a means for engaging students and their parents at a higher level than they have been traditionally.

With transparency being more important now than at any time ever, it is important that we use every means necessary to get out our message as school leaders and get the feedback necessary to get our stakeholders invested.

Laura Holmgren: Social media can personalize student-teacher relationships. The venue for a quick “missed you today; hope you feel better” or “great catch in the game today” to a student can have a positive impact on the student’s attitude toward a class.

More formal use of social media for announcements reaches kids where they are, also a positive for building trust and confidence.

Students create “events” for their school clubs and teams; advisors and coaches are missing out on a channel of communication, interaction, and engagement if they don’t use the tools.

Deron Durflinger:  Social Media has huge potential in schools.  It is the platform that students prefer.  It allows for quick communication to multiple people, in a global community, and it is free.

We have created a hashtag for our school (#vanmeter) that is used for sharing information and backchanneling…Our students/parents are being taught to follow the hashtag to get pertinent information like school closings, and our students are strongly encouraged to post tweets during the day about what is going on in their classes…

The ability to share information and dialogue within that information is very powerful for students and staff alike.  I think social media needs to be a part of the educational process in not only every students’ learning, but every teachers’ learning as well.

Sarah Hanawald:  The value of social media is in the conversation.  A few of us grew up to be comfortable writing into the void–but far more grew up to become talkers.  We learn more and say more when we’re in conversation.

In the “real” world, writing is meant to be read, thought about, and maybe even acted upon; not evaluated by one person and dumped into the recycling bin. Legal briefs go to the judge, financial analysis goes to lenders, etc.

Unknown Author:  I don’t see any benefit for the use of Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media in schools.  There is plenty availability of this outside of school. Do kids really need the school to advocate these distractions during the school day?

Potential pitfalls of using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook in Schools:

Gary Anderson:  Students live their social lives on Facebook.  Can they make the transition to school-appropriate behavior on Facebook?  I’m concerned that Facebook is already too contaminated, so I’m more interested in other social-networking platforms.

Pam Moran:  The pace at which social media tools are being developed exceeds the capacity of most educational communities to assimilate and accept use of such tools as effective practice… The key pitfall is potentially leading too far outside a zone of proximal development and creating high degrees of frustration as a result.

Anne Baird: The most obvious thing is the potential abuse of such tools. If students and teachers do not understand how to protect their identity in social media such as twitter and Facebook for example then they run the risk of being abused or attacked. Information overload and learning how to sift and make judgements are also skills that need to be taught.

Having said that though I don’t believe that issues are quite as bad as the media would have us believe.

Unknown Author: Its a total distraction with no benefit to learning. If a school wants to encourage social interactions and skills then face to face interactions should be advocated.

Giving kids even more time to recede into their cyber-personalities and avoid personal interactions is a mistake.

Chris Lehmann:  You can do it badly. 🙂

Interesting stuff, isn’t it?  I just appreciated the chance to look inside the minds of other educators who are thinking about the role that social media spaces are playing—both in our lives and in our schools.

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