Social Media Guidelines

Why Use Social Media?


As students continue to saturate themselves in the world of social media, many instructors are finding creative uses for implementing services such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in their online and face-to-face classrooms. Social media encompasses any online service used to share academic information, knowledge or discourse with peers, academia, or the general public. When utilized well, social media can be a powerful tool that enriches group learning processes instead of distracting students from course content and their peers. Using social media for instruction is part of a connectivist pedagogy that embraces technology as opposed to competing against it. This means that knowledge is not imparted to learners on behalf of an instructor, but is produced through the variety of connections established amongst the students, instructor, and social media technologies.


Many helpful articles have been written, which provide clever, pragmatic ideas for employing your own social media strategies in the classroom. We’ve included some of these in the ‘Resources’ section of this webpage. However, below are a list of three brief recommendations for you to consider before deciding to integrate social media into your teaching repertoire:

Make it meaningful- How does social media fit into your course learning objectives? Does it align with the outcomes you’ve established? As with any technology you chose to employ, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t just adding a flashy tool for its own sake. Think about the activity that’s being facilitated by the technology. Would using social media in this case enhance or inhibit the learning goals you had in mind for your students? You’ll want to consider which specific tool supports your course goals and the learning activity in question. Here’s a chart that explores the pedagogical possibilities of over 100 popular apps, and show how each specifically aligns with Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Master the tool- Do you use social media on a regular basis? Do you find that using the social media tool you’ve picked is easy and intuitive? In order to maximize the learning impact of your selection, you’ll want to make sure you’ve explored the in’s, out’s, benefits and limitations of the tool prior to incorporating it into your course.  Moreover, you shouldn’t assume that all students are well versed in social media. Make sure that you provide students with all the information they need about the tool at the beginning of the semester. This includes technological requirements (making sure students have the most recent hardware to participate), proficiencies (letting them know that they’re expected to be adept with the technologies being used), and instructions (detailed steps that coach them through how they’ll be using the tool). Don’t let you, or your student’s lack of technical knowledge about social media prevent you from achieving your learning goals.

Avoid unnecessary risk- Because social media involves the exchange of personal information and intellectual property over open networks, there are some inherent risks to using them. Using social media incorrectly or recklessly could lead to an unintentional violation of a student’s right to privacy, specifically, the FERPA act. Please keep in mind that using the proprietary social media tools (Blogs, Discussions, Journals and Wikis) inside our learning management system, Blackboard, will keep all student information protected, and therefore exempt from many of the restrictions listed below. However, if you are committed to using an outside, 3rd party, social media tool, here is a broad list of best practices to follow as you decide on which is best for your classroom:

  • Remember Students cannot be required to publicly participate online, on an open, non-university network, against their will.
  • Do not require that students share any information of a personal nature that is not related to classroom materials.
  • Have students use pseudonyms to identify themselves whenever possible.
  • Password protect all contributions and make sure that only you, the instructor, has access.
  • Enable moderation settings for discussions/contributions whenever possible to ensure that no inappropriate, offensive, injurious or illegal content is posted, or any type of content that might violate another student’s privacy or rights.
  • Never share or store any information relating to individual student grades or classroom status.
  • Do not publish or link to malicious content intended to damage or disrupt another user's browser or computer or to compromise a user's privacy.
  • If student work will be shared publicly, ensure that the content owner has granted permission and expressed appropriate intent before it is published.

Social Media in Action

Bear in mind that as social media technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace, so will the best practices that help protect student’s rights and privacies, along with the strategies used to creatively implement them in courses. At CLEAR, we’re dedicated to staying up-to-date with recent developments, so as social media continues to change, we’ll continue to provide you with the latest, helpful information we have access to. If you have questions or concerns about using social media in your face-to-face or online classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact your designated instructional consultant for help.


Here are a few additional resources that you might find helpful relating to social media implementation and guidelines for use:


100 Examples of Social Media Use for Learning

How to Use Social Media as a Learning Tool

How to Develop a Sense of Presence in Online and F2F Courses with Social Media


General Indiana U Social Media Guidelines

Indiana U Teaching Handbook: Use of Social Networks, Blogs, Wikis, and Other Third-Party Hosted Tools in Instruction

For Instructors: Student Privacy and FERPA Compliance

Guidelines for Public, Student Class Blogs: Ethics, Legalities, FERPA and More

Social Media & FERPA Guidelines for Schools & Educators