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Report: Most Teachers Use Social Media, Worry It Will Cause Conflict

Eighty percent of K-12 teachers use social media for personal or professional reasons, yet the same number worry about conflicts that may arise with their students or their parents as a result, according to a new survey from the University of Phoenix College of Education.

"Students are engaged daily in social media, so it presents a great way to connect with them," said Kathy Cook, director of educational technology for University of Phoenix College of Education, in a prepared statement. "Social media can also help tie classroom learning to real-world scenarios, which can enhance student learning. Many teachers see the value of using these tools in the classroom, but may be reluctant to engage without clear guidelines and training."

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Fifty-eight percent of high school teachers and 47 percent of all K-12 teachers who responded said that they believe social media use can enhance their students' educational experience;
  • Only 17 percent of respondents told researchers that they've encouraged students to connect with them via social media, and only 18 percent said they've integrated it into their classrooms;
  • Among respondents who teach high school students, 21 percent said they have invited students to connect with them through social media and 19 percent reported that they have integrated it into their classrooms;
  • Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they had not integrated social media into their classrooms and do not plan to and 27 percent said they have not integrated it into their classrooms but do want to in the future;
  • Sixty-nine percent of respondents told researchers they believe parents sometimes use social media to monitor teachers' work or personal lives; and
  • Only 29 percent "of K-12 teachers say they have received significant or adequate training about interacting with students and parents in social media," according to information released by University of Phoenix.

Cook offered three tips to help teachers more effectively use social media to connect with students and parents:

  • Choose the right tool. Class-specific Twitter feeds can be used to share updates, facilitate conversations, assist students with projects or to share ideas with parents;
  • Have and communicate a specific policy and don't deviate from it. For example, teachers might tell students and parents that they keep their Facebook profiles personal, but encourage them to reach out on Twitter; and
  • Look for social tools built specifically for the classroom.

"Many professionals face challenges navigating how and when to use social media and whether they should merge their personal and professional lives," said Cook, in a prepared statement. "Perhaps nowhere is the line more blurred than for teachers. On one hand, social media can be a valuable tool for learning and connecting with students and parents; on the other, it can invite inappropriate behavior and misuse."

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and included responses from 1,005 K-12 teachers working in the United States.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].