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Social Networking Risks for Educators - Academic SM101 Course


"Social Media Is a ‘Digital Minefield’ For Employers" – MSNBC

"34 percent of companies surveyed reported that a loss of sensitive information due to employee use of social networking and that it had affected business” – Proofpoint

“Survey Shows Employers Need to Boost Social Media Training” – SHRM 11/10/11

“…33 percent said that their organizations have disciplined employees for social networking issues in the past 12 months."  SHRM 1/1/12


The number of organizations having to fire employees for their misuse of 
social media is growing every day.

Employees’ misuse of Social Networking creates unique challenges for school administrators.

Lack of Awareness in Personal Social Networking

You may not be aware, but your employees are having workplace conversations that can violate Privacy Polices, Workplace Harassment Policies and Code of Conduct Policies.  They are sharing information that may appear to be endorsed by your school or district.  They are mixing their personal and professional lives in ways that can impact your community’s view of your schools.  Perception is reality and the perception of your schools in the community can be shaped by your employee’s use of social networking. The nature of communication has changed and what was once a flippant water cooler comment may now be documented permanently and view-able by an entire community.

Online Actions Have Real World Consequences

Teachers do not fully understand the reality that everything we do online is public, permanent and documented. Far too many of your employees assume that the statements they post on social media sites stay within their private network.  So complaining about their job, their boss, their co-workers, parents or their students will only be seen by their network.  The reality is, however, that students and parents can quickly become riled by comments and photos posted online.  Many administrators have found themselves in very difficult situations.

Teacher Posts Controversial Pictures to Facebook Page

Expectations of professionalism and confidentiality are a given between parents and teachers.  Trust of teachers and staff by parents and students is imperative and yet can be diminished in mere seconds in a viral world by one employee’s lack of awareness of social media.  Many schools and districts are put into a reactive posture not having been proactive in educating employees.

A recent example is a school teacher has been forced to resign after a student’s parent saw a few photos on the teacher’s Facebook page from a Germany vacation. In one photo, the teacher was holding a glass of wine in one hand and a beer in the other.  There was also one profane word in a post by one of her friends on her wall. (Source:

A Catholic school teacher was fired after she participated in a Facebook survey saying in the survey she did not believe in God. (Source: AP)

Another example in Paterson, N.J., a first-grade teacher in a largely black and Latino school may lose her job after commenting on Facebook that she feels like a “warden for future criminals”. A judge ruled that teacher Jennifer O’Brien can be fired for calling her students future criminals on Facebook. O’Brien’s lawyer, Nancy Oxfeld, argues the posting was just an insignificant blunder said in frustration after a bad day.(Source: NPR)

John Palfrey of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society says there have always been teachers who say dumb things, but now social media amplify those comments.(Source: NPR)

Proactively Training Your Employee’s About Social Networking Pitfalls is Absolutely Essential!

Credibility and trust matter, especially to parents.  Over one hundred thousand employees and over a thousand employers have been trained over the last decade by our partners on risk management, identity protection and fraud prevention. In 2009, we began providing social networking awareness training to school districts around the country and are now making this training available online.

The Social Networking Consequences for Education Course:

  • Addresses the positive and negative impact of employees using social media sites personally and professionally.
  • Teaches employees how misuse of social networking even away from work can and will affect the work environment.
  • Helps employee better understand all the risks of over-sharing in social networking.
  • Communicates the issues through dozens of ‘real life’ examples of the mistakes of others in online sharing in a school environment.
  • Inappropriate use of social networking both during and after work hours in a school environment.

This training is proven to increase your employees’ awareness of the issues they do not fully understand about social networking.  It does not address specifics details about the use of social networking under your unique social networking policy.

Providing Social Networking Policies and More

Many states are requiring that schools adopt a social networking policy.  We can provide you with a social networking policy that can be customized for your organization.  However, policies alone are not enough; training is the key.  The purpose of this training is to set the stage for that policy and create awareness and understanding of the need for an organizational policy on the topic of social networking.  Too often the introduction of a social networking policy, without proper training, is viewed by employees as a ‘big brother’ employer dealing in areas that should not be its concern.

This training is a series of 6 videos that are 8-15 minutes in length that will set the framework for your social networking policy and help employees to change their thinking, thereby changing their behavior when it comes to their use of social networking.



Included Modules

Social Networking's Impact

Social Media 101 for Education Video #1

Behind the Curtain of Social Networking

Social Media for Education Video #2

Can Misuse of Social Media Really Impact Your Job?

Social Media 101 for Educators Video #3

Potential Pitfalls With Workplace Connections In Personal Social Networking

Social Media for Educations Video #4.

Social Networking Policies And Schools

Social Medial for Educators Video #5

Minimizing the Personal Risks of Social Networking

Social Media for Educators Video #6.


Education Social Media Policy (.pdf)

These policy templates are provided as a starting point for developing a Social Networking Policy and Student Blogging Policy for schools.

149.88 KB