Just as earlier technology including sound recording, video cameras and television found their way into the classroom as teaching aids, social media is rapidly following suit.

Establishing the subtle differences pertaining to the more interactive experience that social media represents is useful for teachers and teaching assistants seeking information on incorporating social media into the classroom. This information is also helpful for applicants in search of teaching jobs or teaching assistant jobs who need to be aware of how social media may affect their jobseeker’s profile – and what to do about it.

Worldwide knowledge web

Social media represents a way of sharing information and knowledge that is not constrained by geographical borders, distance or time zones. It surpasses nationality, age, gender, disability and ethnic origin. Translatable websites and online dictionaries mean that even language is less of an obstacle than has previously been the case.

Undoubtedly, professional educators can benefit enormously from the rich knowledge base available via the internet. However, it is vital that educators themselves and their students proceed with care in order to avoid the pitfalls associated with using social media.

A mistake on social media may damage current and future career prospects. This is an area that is slowly entering lesson plans.  The office of the information commissioner will soon introduce a pilot scheme in Wales. The goal is to help teachers and teaching assistants provide students with tips on how to avoiding posting embarrassing or compromising comments and/or photos on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Collateral damage

In order to do this effectively, education professionals have to be aware of how social media interactions affect their own status and reputation. This is particularly important if they are searching for a new post. Teaching assistants and teachers need to research and learn more about the possible damage their personal responses to social media may cause.

Ask yourself how will an existing or potential new employer react to mildly derogatory comments about staff room antics on Facebook, a tasteless Twitter joke about a colleague or wildly exaggerated university qualifications on LinkedIn?

Getting your profile in order

Recruitment today is more complex than ever before and education recruitment is no exception. Filling in a job application form, submitting a CV and doing a job interview remain basic procedures. However, for some jobs the selection process may also involve handwriting assessment or psychometric testing, observing body language at interview and increasingly the appraisal of a candidate’s social media profile.

Finding applicants on Facebook has become common practice. All employers need is a few salient facts and it is possible to find social media information on just about anyone. This information may be good or not so good so search yourself and see if you feel confident in what is found.

Clean up your act

The key message is to get wise to social media. Posts on any social media network, including a personal blog, should be treated as an extension of a professional CV. If a compromising photo or a casual negative remark is not suitable for inclusion on a professional profile, then it has no place on a social media site either.