Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.
Social media can be a powerful instructional tool. However, many teachers avoid social media use in the classroom. Why? Educators worry they may be infringing on student privacy rights. However, by following some important guidelines, you can use social media in your classroom while also preserving student privacy.
- Before You Begin Posting – Create a private, classroom-only account. Make students and parents aware that social media will be used in the classroom. Communicate clear expectations. Make sure you have access to photo-editing programs.
- Anonymity is Key – If you are posting photos, make sure to blur student faces, names, and other identifiable information. Identifiable items can include clothing (jerseys with numbers and names), posters with student names hung around the classroom, and even student handwriting. Turn off date, time, and location features on the camera. Don’t post student grades or any part of a student record. (You may have gotten parent permission to post student photos and other student-related items, and that’s okay, but you may only post what you have permission to post.)
- Know The Policies – FERPA, it’s the big one, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Your district or school should have a FERPA-compliant acceptable-use policy and social media rules. Review them. In most instances, you will need parent permission to post student photos or other student-related information, and to allow students to participate in social media use at school.
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to begin! If you’re still uncomfortable using social media, try a classroom-only platform that only you and students can access (like Three Ring).
Student Privacy 101 – The U.S. Department of Education explains student privacy (FERPA). Check out the short video.
Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services – An official document from U.S.D.E. outlining requirements and best practices.