Social media policies and guidelines for teachers

social media guidelines DECDWe are at the stage now where the various education departments around the country have come up with social media policies and guidelines for teachers around Australia. Every so often, as was the case recently, teachers discuss what the policies and guidelines are. This is not because they are ignorant or lax in their approach but because we have different guidelines and policies for different states and then PLNs for teachers can see different approaches which are acceptable in one state but not in another. As a professional body teachers probably need a national set of policies and guidelines which are set by AITSL and ACARA. If we have national professional standards for teachers, social media should be a critical part of this since we are in the age of technology. These policies and guidelines need to be reviewed at least twice a year because things change so quickly on the internet. Underpinning all of this needs to be the safety and security of all who are involved with social media and then parents need to know and understand what is occurring so they can raise their concerns or ideas easily.

The QR code for the South Australian guidelines which is on their brochure is not currently pointing to an active link. This is not surprising given DECD has just undergone a big site refurbishment and to ensure every link is working is a long, tedious process. A big, corporate site needs to constantly attend to link checking and even though there are link checkers we probably need a button on the landing page for a broken link which allows us to notify any site of a malfunction in their links. One of the joys of website care in 2018.

You can find all the state policies and guidelines on the federal site for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

The South Australian Policy is available as a download here.

The South Australian Social Media Guidelines for DECD are here.

The South Australian Consent to use media and creative work is here.

The documents all provide some very useful information and links out to other sites which will inform practice and decision making around social media. It is becoming very complex, though, and a set of national guidelines and policies which apply to all states would probably be helpful so that practice is consistent across the country  .

Much ado about literacy

Digital literacy isn’t new. We have had computers in schools since the 80s. We have mobile phones since the 90s. The big shift was in the 90s. It has only really been since 2009 that there has been a massive push to get technology up and running in classrooms – all classrooms. Not just a computer room for occasional use. In Australia we have made a big commitment to this and used a lot of time , energy and thinking to ensure our students are comfortable with technology and digitally literate. So what is the headline?

School computer use may be affecting literacy and numeracy skills, OECD study says

If you read the article it suggests technology doesn’t teach literacy – teachers do. The article did not highlight the real strength of Australian schools for which we do need recognition. It has been hard work . There have been numerous stakeholders and the level of collaboration across school communities and key technology providers and advisers has been a J learning curve and pretty impressive:

By analysing international test results for 15-year-olds, the OECD found Australians perform significantly above the average in digital reading, and in particular, have strong web-browsing skills, are better able to plan and execute a search, evaluate the usefulness of information, and assess the credibility of sources online.”

We need recognition for that but we are also aware we are at the stage now where we can enhance and improve what we are doing. Getting the juggernaut rolling was a monumental team effort and the best learning and teaching I have seen in education. I have seen a lot of rollouts in 42 years as a teacher. The technology roll out has been a demanding and appropriate learning programme for teachers because they have been challenged very thoroughly and tested really well.

For this reason I think we need to be careful about what we say about technology and literacy. Everything in books is on the net. A computer , its application and use , is far more demanding than any print based course both as a teacher and learner. The literacy demands are complex and can be met but it is not as easy as getting out a book and putting pen to paper. Computers and mobile technology offer so many different forms of communication and each has to be weighed up, quantified and analysed. Additionally, as teachers, we have been providing a significant role in language development. Technology has been critical in evening the playing field in this area. In Australia , differentiation of the curriculum really matters. Our classes comprise students from different cultures, language backgrounds and we include students like those on the autism spectrum and with special needs. We include everyone as much as we can because we have a belief that is right. We have become quite expert in creating learning environments for all sorts of students because it is about their needs.There has been a better accommodation of a broader range of students in classroom because technology has helped us create and find suitable  materials. We have been working on personal learning plans and technology has facilitated that.

National and international tests are important and the results are always interesting but drawing hasty or illogical connections from results is not doing us or the testing justice.

  • What was being tested when the OECD tested for literacy?
  • How were these tests performed?
  • Were the tests performed so students could operate from their natural strengths?
  • Did they look at the composition of classes across countries?
  • In Australia we are teaching students who have English as a first, second, third, fourth and even fifth language. Did we account for that in our testing?
  • Were students allowed to take the test in their strongest language?
  • We have a highly transient world population for all sorts of reasons. Were those factors considered?

We need to ask the questions, get the answers and look at how we can use technology to improve what needs improving. We have access to everything. How we effectively use that is what teaching is about.

Change the way you see the world

second languages This infographic was published on the Business Insider Australia site via movehub. If you go to the  Business Insider link you will see which second languages are important and established in each area of the world. The information is astounding and is showing just how much we are moving, how populations are bringing their culture and languages to different nations and how critical it is to be multilingual/plurilingual in our global society. Business is conducted in various languages and there are political implications for this . Politicians ought to be multilingual/plurilingual too so that they can establish good relationships with their citizens, neighbours and international counterparts. Will the language maps stay like this or shall we keep shifting languages around the planet? If that becomes the case, then speaking more than one language will be essential to success and capacity to live, work and study anywhere. The Business Insider site also has a video on the comparative sizes of countries. I was interested to discover that Australia can fit inside Brazil. In a classroom it is important to understand these sorts of things because our students come from everywhere and what we consider big in Australia might be considered enormous somewhere else. We’ll get in a car in Adelaide and drive to Melbourne. In other countries that is unthinkable.We need to look at how the world is changing and build that into our approach and understanding of our students.

Teaching backwards

learning backwards Image: Free Ppt Templates
When I want to lift up the learning and achievement in my students I teach backwards. With technology and blogging that has become a lot easier because I can get exactly what I need at each step along the way , I can get feedback in class and then look at the learning on their blogs. When you look at student blogs you can see each student is quite different as they process information in their own individual way. It really makes you appreciate the value of differentiation. I blogged about how my year 9s had wanted to see what I meant when I asked them to make up a planet. I took that lesson on board from them and now, when I want my year 10s to advertise Adelaide in French , I thought, well, the best thing I can do is show them French people advertising Australia to their own people. I found two vloggers who were approaching it differently. One uses his iPhone and creates very popular videos of his road trips which are quite spontaneous and funny. The other one has a polished approach and sets up videos and interviews and has roadtripped himself around the world this way and it is now his job. That in itself opened the eyes of my Year 10s. They found it interesting to think French people did this. I could then show the Xavier by bike blog – Don’t dream your life, just live your dreams. Xavier did a bike road trip from Lille to Dubai and blogged about his adventure, with videos in French and English. They could understand bits and pieces of the videos but could see how French people advertise Australia to their own people. We then fed in some vocabulary, expressions and ideas for presentations. As they sorted out their own thoughts on that, I constructed my own brochure on the board as they looked around for what they thought they needed. It isn’t really about connecting the dots. Students are in the internet age. They have a lot of packets of information and ideas in their heads. It’s more an atomic approach to learning where you get the electrons and neutrons to fly around the nucleus of the core learning to create something structured and meaningful. I want my year 10s to produce an advertising text for Adelaide and then a one minute video in French to advertise Adelaide. As we go along I can feed in more vocabulary and expressions, we can look at the videos again and they will be able to see they are achieving something valuable. We have started with shop recommendations. In both of the videos they looked at what our shops were  like and we have done plenty of shopping vocabulary and practice so it’s a good place to start. educereEducation comes from the latin educere. I am a firm believer in leading them out and up.

Compare two countries

France

Australia is 14 times bigger than France.

This site, comparea.org, allows you to compare the sizes of two countries and then gives you a little bit of information about both countries. Very handy for clearing up perceptions. A lot of people do not realise how huge Australia is and then many Australians don’t understand how small and densely populated other countries are. I got the link from the Teaching Ideas Facebook page, a site well worth subscribing to. It always has some really practical and relevant ideas for the classroom.

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