Interpreting the OCT Professional Advisory on Social Media

It is clear that social media will continue to have a profound impact on our society, and the lives of our students.  More and more, teachers are turning to social media to foster learning opportunities both in the class and beyond the walls of the classroom.

Recently, the Ontario College of Teachers released their Professional Advisory for the Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media.   If you have not read it already, you can find it on the web here.

In the advisory, the College address the importance of maintaining a professional relationship with students in all forms of electronic communication.  It also provides a list of guidelines that all teachers are expected to follow.  At first glace, it would seem that the OCT is prohibiting the use of social media because of the tone of the document, however this is not the case.  In fact, the OCT is a stong proponent of the appropriate use of social media in the classroom.   The OCT produced a video as a companion to the professional advisory.  It is about 6 minutes and well worth watching.

I was pleased when the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario released their own response to the OCT professional advisory.  ECOO exists to share and disseminate information and to advocate and promote the effective use of computers and associated technologies in the education process.  Their press release is also worth reading.

As a final word, I would encourage all teachers to think about the possible benefits of leveraging more social media in your classes.  There is no question in my mind that it has had a tremendous impact on my classroom.  More than anything, we need to be discussing the pros and cons of social media, and finding ways to maximize the benefits and minimize (or eliminate the risks).  After all, we need to meet our students where they are!


  1. It is great to know that OCT is moving forward with this. It’s hugely important and I’m glad you’re part of that opening wave!


  2. Social media could play an important role to increase the leaning capabilities in students.


  3. Thanks for the great posting, but I think the OTC advisory got it wrong – social media – or maybe better characterized as social networking using online, digital publishing tool – is all about peer-to-peer communications. It does not fit the teacher-to-student relationship. I fully support leveraging digital technology in learning, but connecting with students using social media, no matter how noble or professional the intention, is inappropriate. There are other more appropriate digital media. OTC advisory should have stated – “Just Don’t”


    1. Hi Kirk –

      Could you please elaborate on why you would say that social media “does not fit the teacher-to-student relationship”?

      In my view, the “teacher-to-student relationship” is one in which the teacher (or perhaps mentor) guides students through a process of discovery and learning. If social media supports this process, then why is it so inappropriate?

      In my opinion, social media allows teachers to reach students using the tools they use daily. It breaks down the walls of the classroom, showing students that learning happens everywhere/all the time. It allows students to collaborate together and facilitates communication. Most importantly, it connects students with each other and encourages them to have meaningful conversations about their learning.

      I believe that Web 2.0/Social Media has a lot to offer educators and, in fact, reinforces the teacher-to-student relationship.

      I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.


      1. Hi Graham

        Yes sure… it seemed to me that the overriding mission here is more about changing the teacher/student relationship and the learning process, or if I heard you right, it may be more correct to say that change has happened, whether we like it or not.

        So the new T/S relationship is no longer restricted by either time or space, as you say “learning happens everywhere/all the time”. The learning process is 24/7, the class room is the world, and teaching opportunities expand to include all who are within the child’s “global” community.

        The call-to-action is not start using twitter in the class, but a call to wake up to a new way of teaching, a new class room that is not defined by a morning and afternoon bell, or constrained by brick and mortar, and a new definition of the T/S relationship. A relationship based on mutual respect, participation, partnership and collaboration. It’s not about technology; it’s about a new way of teaching/learning.

        Which brings me to my point regarding SM; placed within the context of a new learning paradigm and a redefined T/S relationship, SN and SM can be powerful tools. However, in my view, allowing teachers to use social media within the old paradigm is extremely dangerous, so many opportunities for things to go wrong.

        I’d advocate for a highly trained, certified Digital Learning Specialist/resource person in every school.

        Btw…I’m totally inspired by your passion.



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