Tony McNeill has blogged about UK universities developing social media policies and what the drivers for their development might be. He says,
My hunch – and it’s just a hunch at the moment based on some quick reading of sample policy documents and discussions with colleagues at Kingston University – is that the development of social media policies has been taken in response to both the promise of social media in promoting university brands as well as the threat to institutional reputation. The creation and implementation of social media policies are, therefore, playing a role in helping universities manage both the risks and benefits of social media at a time when reputation or brand management is key.
Whilst this may well be the case for institutional policies there are some disciplines where the issue of professionalism may be the driver for developing a social media policy. This is certainly the case for medical schools. The BMA recently issued some guidelines and ethical guidance for doctors and medical students on using social media which we’ve highlighted to our students. These practical guidelines focus on areas such as patient confidentiality, the boundaries between public-private and how social media might impact on employment. This guidance is helpful and welcome but there isn’t much mention given to the potential social media has to support learning, so we’re looking to build on the BMA docment and look at some of the possible benefits. A key to developing more localised guidelines is the involvement of students and we’re building on a previous student project, which highlighted that many students would welcome more guidance from the medical school on using social media.
I’d be interested to know if other medical schools already have social media policies/guidelines in place and also whether students have had any involvement in shaping these guidelines or are involved in peer teaching on issues around social media and digital professionalism.