Documentation:Digital Tattoo Snapchat Mishap

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During the summer of 2017, the Digital Tattoo project team is collaborating with students and others on the development of case study scenarios for use in seminars in teacher education programs.

Learning Outcomes

Workshop participants have the opportunity to:

  • build their confidence for decision-making about posting and sharing content online.
  • practice using guidelines and resources to support decision-making.
  • reflect on and discuss the multiple perspectives at play in each scenario and the implications for themselves as beginning teachers.


Teachers should assume that anything they post online can be found and shared, whether their social media accounts are public or private.

Table Discussion

In groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.

Personal Reflection

While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

Teachers can use social media accounts as a way to effectively communicate with students, but this type of communication also poses risks. How would I manage school-designated social media accounts?

Case Study

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After being encouraged to take advantage of communication apps as a teaching tool with her high school Social Studies classes at the beginning of her practicum, Jessica decided to make teaching accounts on a few different apps and websites in order to engage her students. Having looked her up online prior to the start of her practicum, Jessica's school advisor suggested that, if she wanted to use social media, she should probably make her current accounts private and consider creating new accounts to use with her classes. After discussing the idea and getting permission to create school-related social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok with the school administrator, Jessica made the accounts under her name Ms. Yu. She advised students and their parents that, though it was not a requirement, they could all add and follow her teaching accounts on these apps instead of her personal accounts. Doing so meant that she could send out links for news articles that were relevant to their class material, communicate with parents and students about assignments and other classroom news, and get in touch with students when they had quick questions or wanted to share images and other items they found relevant to their schoolwork. Thus far, Jessica has found her students to be engaged in their work and has received positive comments from her supervising teacher, who has found that her incorporation of social media adds creativity to her lessons.

While teaching a unit about BC elections, Jessica was determined not to share her personal political views with students, despite her being politically active outside of school, as she did not want to impress her views on anyone or upset any students, parents, or other teachers who felt differently. Instead, she was focusing on the ways in which elections were conducted in BC and decided to run a mock election with her students. As a part of the unit, she wanted students to study and create political campaigns, encouraging them to take and share photos of real campaign strategies they found with her school-designated social media accounts so that they could discuss them in class. She advised them to check the accounts, as she would also share images she found outside of school.

One day, after taking pictures of some political flyers and posters she found on her way home and sharing them with the class account, she decided to post one of the posters that she particularly disagreed with to her personal Instagram story, captioning it “How could anyone possibly vote for this f&#%ing moron?!?” A short time later, she received an Instagram message from one of her students that said, “Tell us what you really think Ms. Y!” Realizing that she had accidentally sent the message from her school account instead of her personal account, Jessica quickly removed the image from the account's story feature, but could see that multiple students and some of their parents had already opened it. She was worried that people had screenshotted her story.

The next day, her school advisor informed her that he had received complaints from some of the parents of her students. They were upset after seeing the image and felt that it was inappropriate for a teacher to express political opinions to students, especially with that type of language. Jessica was told she would have to meet with her facilitator and the school administrator to decide how to handle her mistake. She is now trying to figure out how she can discuss this with her students and their parents, and she is also concerned that this could jeopardise her practicum, as she has heard stories of other teachers being disciplined for political posts on social media. She also thinks it may be best to delete all of her school-related social media accounts in order to avoid having anything like this happen again.

Discussion Questions

1. Does Jessica's use of Instagram violate any social media policies and/or the Teacher Education Office’s practicum guidelines? Could this be grounds for discipline?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Read the "Staff Guidelines" section on page 3.
  • Read the “Respect for Others” and “Responsibility” sections near the bottom

2. How should Jessica approach this situation with students, parents, and school administrators? Can she turn this into a positive experience? Would you recommend that she continue using social media in her teaching despite this incident?

Consider these resources as you answer:

3. Do you plan to utilize social media as a tool in your classroom? How would you incorporate social media into your instruction while managing the associated risks?

Consider these resources as you answer:

4. What do you consider before sharing your personal beliefs and opinions on social media? Would you share more on a private account than you would on an account that your students see? Are there any beliefs or opinions that you would avoid sharing on social media altogether?

Consider these resources as you answer:

Additional Resources

If time allows, explore these additional resources:

Sharing Permissions

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Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document according to the terms in Creative Commons License, Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. The full text of this license may be found here: CC by-sa 4.0

When re-using this resource, please attribute as follows: developed by the University of British Columbia: Digital Tattoo – Case Studies Project Team.


What questions did this case study raise for you from your perspective? Please share in the comment box below.