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Three Myths about Student-led Social Media

digital graphic of a smart phone with blue and yellow speech bubbles

For the last eight years, I’ve been attending NCSA Administrators’ Days as an administrator. This past week, I attended the event for the first time as a vendor: a vendor representing a social media management platform that, for one thing, allows for moderated control of content publishing. 

Although the context was different, the relationships I’ve built over the last several years with colleagues across the state enriched our conversations including their blatant honesty regarding social media related issues in their schools. Through these conversations three myths began to unfold about allowing student-created social media content.

Myth #1: Students will be inappropriate.

FACT: Sometimes good kids make poor decisions. Conversely, when you entrust students with important tasks within a platform that requires moderator approval and archives their content, you’ve eliminated any desire for them to post inappropriate content. If they do create content that is inappropriate, the moderator can simply deny the posting request and have a real-life or in-app conversation with the students about why the post is inappropriate. 

For example, your team wins a close football game, and a student posts:

The Pirates killed the Tigers on the gridiron tonight 42-7. ??

The post could be edited or denied or delayed with an in-app note asking the student to rewrite the post. A followup conversation could inform the student why the verb killed isn’t the best choice nor is the skeleton the best emoji. A quick edit could result in the following:

The Pirates defeated the Tigers on the gridiron tonight 42-7. ? ?

This is a simple yet very effective opportunity to learn how much power words and graphics possess. A real-life digital citizenship lesson. Plus, this is great modeling for parents and other adults in our communities, too. Am I right? 

Myth #2: Students make too many errors.

FACT: Every day in school, we are teaching and assessing students on their learning. One big push in education right now is Project-Based Learning. From kindergarten to senior year, we ask students to write; however, how often do we give them the chance to publish their writing for an authentic audience? Will friends comment when you misspell the name of the student starring in the musical? Will followers Tweet when you make an error in the final score? Do adults, including you, make the same types of mistakes? 

Yes, yes, and yes.

Yes, we all make mistakes. We make mistakes then we learn from those mistakes by receiving feedback, correcting the mistake, and practicing more in order to do better the next time. By utilizing a social media management platform to collaborate on (or at least preview) posts, students are able to showcase their ability to create many types of content from photos to graphics to writing to video production. This is project-based learning. 

Bonus: when students have an authentic audience, they tend to perform better. 

Myth #3: This will make more work for me.

FACT: Allowing students to create social media content for your school or district will not increase your workload. Some upfront work is needed including: investing in a social media management platform for security, empowering a few lead adults in your building, and offering students the opportunity to tell their story. Once you have this in place, your workload actually DECREASES! 

Principals and Activity Directors, consider everything you have to do when supervising a home basketball game. Do you also need to send out the streaming link, post score updates, take photos, and write captions? 

NO. And guess what? 

When you empower your students to do this on behalf of their school, you are training them to become content creators for someone other than themselves and utilizing their digital citizenship skills in an authentic setting. 

FACT: I am now a vendor, but I will always be an educator, and students will always be my number one priority.  Students live up to your expectations, so expect the best and don’t be surprised when they exceed anything you could have imagined.

Do you want to learn more about building a student-led social media team from scratch?

Author: Jill Johnson, EdD

Over her 30 year career in education, Dr. Jill has served in various roles including secondary ELA teacher, professional development consultant, and high school administrator. After completing her doctoral study, Technology Leadership Qualities in Secondary Principals in Nebraska who Support Student-led Social Media Teams, Jill began her tenure as Class Intercom President.

Jill can be contacted at jill@classintercom.com

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