The report, “School Principals and Social Networking in Education: Practices, Policies, and Realities in 2010,” combines results from an online survey of 1,200 educators, including principals, librarians, and teachers, and an in-depth online discussion with 12 school principals who have used social networking professionally.

Of the 12 principals who participated in the in-depth online discussion, several thought use of social networking and online collaboration tools would help make school more relevant to students—that is, these tools would help “reach students where they’re at.”

Survey respondents also said they believe social networking tools provide a way for educators to share information and resources with an extended community of their peers, create professional learning communities, and improve school-wide communications with students and staff. About half of those who responded rated social networking as “very valuable” in these pursuits.

Yet none of the 12 principals in the discussion group had school or district social networking policies in place that were deemed adequate, suggesting the need for conversations and collaboration to establish policies that can facilitate appropriate use of social networking in schools for educational purposes.

Principals in the discussion group mentioned a variety of barriers to the integration of social networking into classroom instruction, including legal concerns, concerns about inappropriate use and the need for proper monitoring, and lack of time (to set up the system and for professional development and practice).

The research was conducted by edWeb.net, Interactive Educational Systems Design Inc., MMS Education, and MCH Strategic Data.