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Texting, tweeting, posting pictures … how can you maintain a professional use of electronic communication and social media? The College has updated its professional advice to Ontario Certified Teachers about using technology responsibly. Professional judgment and reflection are key. BY GABRIELLE BARKANY, OCT, AND JANIS LEONARD, OCT R apid changes in technology make electronic communication a com- plex area of practice. Our message to you, however, is straightforward: Continue to maintain appropriate boundaries and professional standards when using electronic communication and social media. What does this mean? "Keep interactions professional, as you would in the classroom, and build a positive online presence," says the College's Deputy Registrar Joe Jamieson, OCT. "Know and respect proper professional boundaries with students, even when they initiate electronic interaction. Take time to reflect; ensure the standards of practice guide your professional judgment and actions." Why the update? In 2011, the College published the professional advisory Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media. Since then, a lot has changed. Communication technologies are evolving rapidly, allowing us to access and share information in innovative ways. More teachers, students and their families have access to the internet, tablets and other mobile communication devices. More social networking sites — such as Snapchat — have also emerged, and some of the more popular sites have changed significantly. For example, Facebook now has features that allow users to chat using instant messaging, talk online and share information using a variety of media. These changes are exciting for educa- tors. They provide many opportunities to enhance professional learning and practice. However, these rapid developments, combined with the sheer number of de- vices, apps and networks that we connect to each day, make it increasingly chal- lenging to protect our privacy, ensure security and maintain appropriate professional boundaries with students. Given the highly public nature of elec- tronic communications and the speed at which information is shared, teachers do need to be cautious. Reflect and apply your professional judgment before shar- ing information electronically — both publicly and privately. Legal bodies and professional regula- tors are increasingly referring to mobile messages and social media content in their investigations. A seemingly harm- less personal message read out of context could have unintended negative conse- quences for you and the profession. What has changed in the advisory? We updated the definition of electronic communication to reflect a more contemporary meaning, and provided current examples. We also clarified that the College does not discourage the use Electronic World Communicating in an 30 Professionally Speaking | December 2017

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