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Ethical & Moral Dilemmas in a Digital World

Navigating social media and social networks as an educator is to say the least…challenging for many. Whether it be managing your own personal accounts or integrating social media with your professional role, it can be difficult to understand where the lines are drawn and what is acceptable. This blog post will share my own personal journey with social media as an educator, while connecting to articles that share what information on policies, procedures and cautions that teachers should be taking.

Depending on who you speak with, views on social media in the classroom can vary from one extreme to the other. This is what can make an ethical dilemma such as this one complicated because our own personal morals can be tied to it. My goal has always been to fall somewhere within the middle. That middle has seemed to change even after taking a few different digital technology classes, as my digital presence as an educator has grown and changed over time. As discussed in a previous post of mine, when students Google my name, the main items to pop-up are my blog website and my educator Twitter account. Since recently changing my last name last summer, I almost reinvented my identity from my younger self. If you Google my maiden name, there are many others in the world with a similar name and not much is to be found regarding my digital identity. For others this is not always the case.

Throughout the teacher educator program that I attended, we were always made very aware that our social media accounts should be private to students, and if someone did happen to see your profile, it should be manicured in a way so that students, parents, and administrators wouldn’t be able to come across anything that they could hold against you. We were told that we should remove anything that shows the use of alcohol, drugs, texting and driving, provocative photos and even posts that reflect a strong political or ideological view. Teaches are curated to be seen as this neutral robot that don’t have lives outside of the classroom. It is unfortunate that we often feel like we have to walk on egg shells in fear of being ridiculed by the public. However, I’ve always erred on the side of caution and took these steps because I feared ever having to deal with an online issue. For most of my adult life I never had my last name on any of my profiles and have had a family friend feed. Social Networks can also bring up ethical issues for teachers who are ”friends” with their students. In the article, “Ethical Issues with Using Technology in the Classroom“, teachers may learn things about their students, like seeing posts about underage drinking. Student’s often don’t understand that they no longer have their right to privacy by posting online, even though they often feel anonymous because there is no face-to-face interaction.

Within my own classroom, I do not directly have my students using social media. In fact, I don’t allow any the use of personal devices during the school day as we are fortunate enough to have 2:1 laptop access. In grade 6, I have many students that do not have social media accounts or personal devices due to their parents own personal choices. I support the parents who want to delay the use of social media accounts at this age because they have they own views and experiences with social media. Even though I don’t specifically use social media with my students, I still incorporate it in the classroom. With this I also have to be cognoscente of my students who do not have certain media permissions. In Dylan’s article, “Beware: Be aware The Ethical Implication of Teachers using Who Use Social Networking sites To Communicate”, Henderson et al. (2014) point outs, “teachers should be aware that this consent might need to be renegotiated at regular intervals” (p. 3). Teachers have the responsibility to ensure that students (and parents) want their own virtual identities to be made public when using SNSs as a tool for communication.” We connect with our families on a regular basis using Seesaw and our school website. Students post pictures of their class work and assignments and I post classroom activities and memorable moments. Parents can only view and comment on their own children’s work which makes it a very private digital space for families to interact with the classroom and their teacher. Using tools like this can prepare students for the use of social networking sites in the future.

I share my personal TikTok, Twitter and blog information with my students because those are the platforms that I know can be viewed by my students. The content I share on them is educational, and to share my love of our dogs. Other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are strictly for my personal use. If I come across an interesting TikTok video that is relevant to something we discussed in class or that I think they would enjoy, I will save it and show it together through the projector. Moving into the world of digital media classes has started to change my perspective on social media in the classroom. Since creating my blog and teacher twitter account, I have felt a bit more secure in my professional online presence. I share my Twitter handle and blog address with the parents and students so that they can see a positive example of me engaging with social networks. My believe my students connect with me on a deeper level when they see me positively engaged in the online world. It is important for teachers to choose what is most comfortable for them when navigating the ethical and moral dilemma of social media in the classroom and for their own professional and personal use.


4 thoughts on “Ethical & Moral Dilemmas in a Digital World

  1. Hi Katherine. I agree it is difficult, to say the least, that as teachers we need to be hyper aware of what we are posting online. I think we are held to a standard that is unfair. I also hesitate to use social media in the classroom. As a division, we use Microsoft Teams to connect with families. In class, there are some really cool sites to use related to the Teams platform, but it is not nearly as convenient as Seesaw (which I was asked to stop using) or other social media apps to send quick messages to students and families.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Katherine. Thanks for the insight. I definitely agree with you that each educator needs to make a choice on how much they are comfortable sharing with their students and families. A teachers social network can be scrutinized so easily online by students, parents, and the community, so for me, I feel more comfortable sharing less. I do like that you are able to cultivate a positive digital identity online through twitter and your blog for your students and their families to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Katherine. I agree that we are definitely on egg shells and almost put in a glass house when it comes to our social media pages. I feel lucky that I teach a grade that is just starting to dabble in social media for a few reasons. One being that I have the ability to teach them about identity very early on and have those conversations about proper internet use. Second I do not have to worry about them searching me up or about seeing any of their inappropriate posts. I also have a strong ethic code of my own that I will not accept past or present students onto any of my pages unless they enter and become intertwined with the teaching profession which even then I do not add people to my personal social media accounts just because we are colleagues. My twitter account at the moment is primarily used for this class with the odd share of other things professional but it is still pretty light but I cannot see my sharing my handle with parents, at least not yet, maybe if I move to higher grades? I do not know if I share anything that would be relevant to parents being on there. Maybe one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! I totally agree. There is so much that teachers have to think about before they post online. If it isn’t something frowned upon by the division, then society has something to say about it. In my opinion, we are held to such a different standard than most professions and have to be super diligent about our online presence, both professionally and personally. There are always questions running through my head about how something may be interpreted, or what this may look like to those that don’t understand context, etc. that I often don’t post because it’s easier on my decision-making skills and weighing the consequences of each potential action.

    Liked by 1 person

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