Separating Your Personal and Professional Life in Social Media

lab-teacherIn today’s society, social media is becoming a big part of our everyday dialogue.  Every aspect of our lives is being touched by it – from grandmas joining Facebook and neighbors blogging recipes, to companies posting tweets and government agencies creating fan pages. If you are unsure about social media’s influence on today’s society, here are some surprising statistics.

  • In a recent report from the International Telecommunication Union, statistics show that internet users surpassed 2 billion in 2010.
  • Twitter currently process 1,000 tweets per second. (October 2010 edition of PC Magazine)
  • Facebook has more than 500 million active users and more than 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month. (facebook.com)
  • More than 14.6 billion videos were viewed on YouTube in May 2010. (Mashable.com)

Social media is connecting us to people not only in our everyday lives, but across the globe as well. These sites are also introducing us to a world filled with new experiences, interactions and endless possibilities.

We know WHY we should use social media, but now let’s talk about HOW you should use it.

Throughout any given day we may wear a variety of hats, depending upon the role we are playing; whether a parent, teacher, friend, boss, employee, etc.  These roles dictate the type of behavior we exhibit and the type of relationships we may have with others.  So in most cases there are two general “camps” of behavior – personal and professional.

So you may be asking yourself, “Why separate the two online?” Well, just like in real life, the separation of personal and professional should exist in the world of social media. There are things we don’t want to, and shouldn’t, share with our bosses, clients, parents, or students when we interact with them throughout the day. This sentiment couldn’t ring any truer when it comes to social media.

If you are going to use social media, it is highly recommended that you separate your personal identity from your professional identity.  This allows you to filter the types of information that you share and create appropriate connections.

Bottom line – your online identity impacts your real world identity, so act accordingly.

The State of Cloud Computing [Video]

Here is a great video from JESS3 explaining the exponential growth of cloud computing. As the cloud continues to evolve and grow in popularity, we will begin to see some great applications of this service in the worlds of distance learning and online education.

According to Wikipedia, "Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, as with the electricity grid." With that being said, computing via the cloud is and will continue to be a big part in the delivery of distance learning platforms.

Check out the video below.

To Share, or Not To Share

computerLab2Since we have determined that it is a good practice to have two separate profiles, let’s talk about what you should and shouldn’t post online. The first rule to live by when posting is to treat your social media interactions like real world interactions.  If you wouldn’t say it in front of your students, parents or administrators, then you shouldn’t be posting it on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.  This may seem like common sense, but news stories continually pop-up that attest to the fact that “common sense” is not so “common.”

Take for example the news headline from just last month…”How not to use Facebook, if you’re a school official.”  In this case, an Arkansas school board member commenting on a campaign to get people to wear purple to show support for bullied gay and lesbian youth, purportedly posted a Facebook message saying the only way he would wear purple is “if they all commit suicide.”  Of course, this insensitive and disrespectful comment is a tragic example of what NOT to say and do on Facebook.  Please, please, please think before your hit submit!

This edict is also true as it relates to your personal account.  Be careful what you post and share, because it WILL come back to haunt you.

Also, please practice caution when uploading multimedia content such as photos and videos. While they may seem innocuous or be simple fun, they may convey unintended messages about you and your activities that can be misconstrued.  

We’ve briefly mentioned that you are STRONGLY encouraged to create two separate social media profiles – one professional profile and one personal profile – this is best practice prescribed by all social media websites. Again, common sense is not always common – avoid sensitive conversational materials, and always stay away from using profanity and vulgarity.

There are many laws that relate to the online activities of children. Even though you as teachers may be excited to share your students’ news and accomplishments, you should be cognizant of Federal laws such as FERPA and COPPA. They are intended to protect children, and you must be aware of them.

Bottom line – when posting materials while wearing your professional “hat” ask yourself, “Would I talk about this in a classroom full of students?” Or in other words, “Can your mother see it?” – CYMSI

We hope this doesn’t discourage you from sharing, because there are so many amazing doors that social media can open and opportunities that it may bring to educators.  Don’t let a few bad apples ruin the bushel!

So what can you share?

  • Talk about your successes. It’s OK to brag on your social sites. In fact, it’s expected. Toot your own horn.
  • Share ideas and resources that you have found – talk about practices and activities that have worked for you.
  • Share experiences with new places, new things, and new people.
  • Enter into a conversation with someone else – be part of the social media conversation.  Don’t be afraid to make comments, that part of the “social” of social media.
  • Social media is a tool for use within the classroom.  Use it in enrichment activities, make it a vehicle for literary discussion, encourage students to use it as a means for interacting at a global scale.

As social media continues to grow in popularity, we are going to want to broadcast every minute of every day on our social media profiles. But before you post that status update or send that tweet, always remember, “To share or not to share, that is the question.”