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Time to focus on Facebook literacy in our education system

The viral outbreak of images from the recent unfortunate teen rape in Pitt Meadows underscores the need for the public education system to take a proactive leadership role in developing curriculum and teaching strategies to help students navigate the murky waters of Facebook and other social media tools.

 Are students really as tech savvy as they may think they are? Although this generation of students is very adept at using social media for entertainment and leisure, schools can play an important role in helping students to develop their digital literacy skills. Even though students have been online since childhood, they need to learn the basics of navigating privacy and personal information

The digital literacy curriculum should be developed in conjunction with educators, students, parents, law enforcement agencies, and other appropriate agencies. The social media literacy program should be designed to help students understand the responsible use of social media and should focus on etiquette, ethical considerations, and dos and don’ts. Parents and students should play a key role in helping to define and shape the program.

Potential elements of the digital media curriculum could include:

  • Understanding social media
  • Social media: reputation, identity, and authority
  • Privacy, security, and ethical issues
  • Critical thinking and  reasoned choices
  • Anti-cyber bullying strategies
  • Guidelines for adult interaction with students
  • The educational benefits/risks of social media
  • Using social media to enhance student learning
  • Best practices

 Now is the time for policymakers to play a leadership role in bringing together educators, students, parents, law enforcement agencies, and other appropriate agencies to develop a social media literacy program. The program should be supported by resources, professional development for educators, and parent and community outreach.

 The Vancouver School Board has made a decision to use social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc) to enhance its communications and outreach capacity. The VSB has a responsibility to take a leadership role in promoting the development of strategies and programs to assist educators, students, and parents to develop their digital literacy skills. It would also be useful for the Ministry of Education to provide resources and support for this important initiative.

 

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