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Legal contexts and digital identities

Joosten's (2009) survey tells us that over 65% of students felt they needed good and frequent communication from their educators, 75% wanted communication with their classmates and 80% said they needed to feel connected to learn. These days, many students do not check e-mails on a regular basis so teachers are using social media such as twitter, texting and Facebook to connect with students beyond the classroom. Young people visit these and other social networking services from home and other out-of-school locations. Many young people are also adept at finding ways around blocking and filtering software in order to visit the sites they find meaningful and useful. After consultation with staff it was decided to allow students access to such social networking sites as Youtube, Twitter and Facebook as long as we had policies and procedures in place that were clear in their guidelines for all to understand.

Students at my school are given explicit teaching on all aspects of Digital Citizenship practices, including social networking and effective, responsible use of technology in the learning environment.

This involves:

  • Students completing the Digital Citizenship course to establish core principals.
  • Students receiving context specific support in individual subjects areas.
  • Parents and caregivers being supported with conversations by staff around the use of social media.
  • The conversations will include the use by teachers of social media to support students to manage time, self-organise and collaborate which in return, will increase their achievement results.

The school recognises the need to support students and their families in terms of the behavioural management of using social media. A set of expectations for appropriate use of social media is available and systems are defined to monitor and manage these expectations.

These include:

  • When and where students can use social media.
  • Appropriate use of social media.
  • Cyber Safety agreement.
  • Guidelines for teachers to respond to issues relating to misuse of social media.
  • Systems for users to report possible misuse of social media.
  • Firewall for monitoring, filtering, blocking and recording student use of the internet.

Expectations for the behavioural responsibilities of staff and students will be made explicit in the course on digital citizenship that will occur before students are given access to technology. Ongoing feedback from students, parents, teachers and pastoral staff will be considered and used to inform decision making and to make improvements to policies and systems where necessary.

These policies and guidelines have been in place for two years now and Y9-11 have completed the Digital Citizenship Course. We continue to reiterate in teachers professional development that they are responsible to continue the explicit teaching of appropriate digital behaviour to students and talking to parents/whanau about why and how they are using social media for teaching and learning. Also that it is important to keep the channels of communication open by keeping parents/whanau updated and involved in what’s being shared on-line spaces created for teaching and learning. One of our school values is responsibility and if students see misuse of social media during school time they are encouraged to be responsible and inform the teacher and/or a dean. A restorative approach is taken where the consequence of the action is explained to the student and support is put in place.

Joosten, T.( 2013. October 22). Pearson: Social Media for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from

New Zealand Teachers Council. (2015). Teachers & Social Media. Retrieved from

Mt Roskill Grammar School. (2014). E-Learning Strategic Vision. Unpublished paper.

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