I’ve been at two meetings this week in which contrasting views on the usefulness of Facebook were shared.
In the first, I was sharing with my Key Stage 2 staff the growing demands on school websites and how it is becoming increasingly necessary for schools to broadcast what they do.
For example, a year by year curriculum is now required on a school website so that parents can find out what they can expect their children to be taught. As this curriculum can be tweaked from year to year, I was arguing that rather than place this on a static website, updates could be made on something like a Facebook page (or indeed a Google + page, or a blog, or a Google site).
In order that staff can begin experimenting with this, I have opened up staff access to Facebook and other social media within my school. I have had Facebook open on my own computer for a few years so that I can manage the whole school Facebook page; by opening it to the teachers also, I’m hoping that some may start using a class Facebook page to begin broadcasting what they do.
Personally I’ve found that having a presence on Facebook as a school has been quite useful. It means that there is a common starting point in discussions with parents about Facebook and also, in the odd occasion that a child or a parent complains about inappropriate Facebook use, I can address the issue by taking screenshots of what has happened. Recently I’ve also discovered that Facebook are quite prompt in acting on information concerning inappropriate use, especially from under-age users. I found two children using Facebook each other, told Facebook that they were under-age, and Facebook removed their profiles.
I digress. In my second meeting that I referred to, Facebook came up in a more negative context. A headteacher had had negative experiences with Facebook and urged others to consider asking their staff not to use Facebook.
How strange for me. On the one hand I had urged staff to use Facebook to help them broadcast their class news. On other hand I was being urged to ask my staff to stop using Facebook.
I suppose where you fall on this divide will depend on your views on how to educate children for e-safety. But that’s another post, for another time.