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Embracing Social Media as a School

The American International School of Cape Town (AISCT) in South Africa has decided not to ban technology, not to run away from social media but instead run towards it, embrace it, use it, take advantage of it, and make it part of the curriculum by offering an elective class.

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Social media is everywhere, from phones to computers to adverts on the street. It affects our daily lives without us even realizing it, affecting how we dress, what we eat, what spikes our interests, all the way down to our viewpoint on life. Social media has a powerful effect on people, whether they are children or senior citizens. Many people underestimate the use of social media because it is usually used for entertainment, but it is all around us in so many platforms: Instagram, iMessage, Snapchat, Facebook, the list is endless.

Social Media students pose for a picture in the high school hallway while venturing through the school for photos and content to post online.
Social Media students pose for a picture in the high school hallway while venturing through the school for photos and content to post online.

Because of the power and potential dangers of social media, many schools have rules and regulations against it. Some schools do not even allow students to bring their phones or iPads to school. However, the world is changing, and everything is digital now. We all know that social media is very important in business, and it can be beneficial in education if used correctly. As a result, the American International School of Cape Town (AISCT) in South Africa has decided not to ban technology, not to run away from social media but instead run towards it, embrace it, use it, take advantage of it, make it part of the curriculum by offering an elective class where students take initiative on social media platforms, learning about them, and being responsible while representing the school.

That is how the class was created: the first-ever AISCT Social Media class, 16 high school students from all over the world interested in all aspects of social media. Often in class, they read and discuss articles on social media and technology. They discuss the advantages and disadvantages, the dangers and the benefits. They are currently reading a book by Emma Sadleir, South Africa’s leading social media legal expert. They have even studied and discussed the school’s technology and social media policy which is based on Sadleir’s policies. Regularly in class, they discuss different approaches to the usage of the internet at school as well as how to present the school positively in the public eye. Students have been given the opportunity to create and lead the school’s social media platforms, empowering them to practice the three pillars of AISCT: responsibility, integrity, and respect. The students and teacher even have a Social Media Whatsapp group which is very active.

Social Media students and their teacher Helen Petersen discuss what they would like to post on their Facebook page.
Social Media students and their teacher Helen Petersen discuss what they would like to post on their Facebook page.

Each week, the students photograph and collect images of what they find interesting in their community and give each a caption. As a group, they then debate what should and should not be posted online, keeping in mind that everything is public and “digital content can be dangerous content.” As a result, the class is very proud to announce that they recently created a new AISCT Facebook page, and it has grown immensely with many likes. Their next step is to create an AISCT Instagram account and then a Facebook alumni page. The students in charge of this project are excited to keep providing their community with updates on AISCT events and news and look forward to all the new exciting social media developments on the horizon.

The American International School of Cape Town (AISCT) is a private, not-for-profit co-educational institution founded in 1997. The school educates 500 students from 50 countries, ranging in age between 2 and 18 years.

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