Last January 18 and 19, 2018, the University of Santo Tomas Social Media Bureau hosted LinkEd: The First Social Media in Education Summit, at the Dr. George S.K. Ty Multi-Purpose Halls of the Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Building.

Millennials are on their way out
In his keynote address, renowned communication expert Ramon “Bong” Osorio, CPR, APR said that while it was acceptable to associate the social media phenomenon with millennials, schools need to contend with the fact that even millennials are on their way out of the young generation, as they have begun to have families of their own.

Schools, as they cater to young people, now need to deal with those touted to be part of “Gen Z” or the “Edgers,” who in contrast to their immediate predecessors are more optimistic, idealistic, empathetic, and have a tendency to want to save the world.

Osorio emphasized that schools must recognize the reality of social media, especially in the areas where Internet connectivity is no longer a problem.

How social media changed the landscape
In his talk regarding communication dynamics of social media, communication expert Rommel Lopez challenged the audience to reflect on whether or not social media networks have given benefit or caused disruption.

To In doing so, Lopez presented cases and stories of how social media networks have been used and misused mostly in the Philippines. He cautioned educators to not fall prey to fake news and online deception and batted for the importance of media and information literacy training not just for students, but for teachers.

As he ended his sharing, Lopez presented his viral encounter with an honest and humble taxi driver, which caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of netizens. This encounter, which has since garnered mainstream media attention, has likewise generated support for the taxi driver, in the form of financial and material assistance.

What is our online face?
A session was likewise held on the how to boost a school’s online presence by Philippe Jose S. Hernandez, MEng, Assistant Director of the Social Media Bureau. In the session, Hernandez emphasized that social media networks like Facebook offer schools the opportunity to reach a wider audience in real time, at virtually no cost.

Hernandez called on the attendees to consider exploring this option and blend it with traditional-media ways of promoting their school and reaching their audience. For this, Hernandez suggested the creation of a social media team whose primary task is to post achievements, announcements, updates, and pertinent school information.

Who teachers should BE
In relation to how schools must be portrayed online, a session was devoted on how teachers and academics must behave in the virtual world, particularly in the realm of social media. Prof. Clarita D. Carillo, PhD of the Department of Teacher Education of the College of Education outlined eight BE-attitudes pertinent to social media use.

In her lecture, Carillo underscored that while teachers can freely engage via social media, they do not stop being teachers once they log in to the networks. With social media’s fast-paced communication exchanges, a single screenshot can be the source of controversy for anyone, thereby raising the need for prudence when posting.

Tools for collaboration and learning
To present one of social media’s benefits, Assoc. Prof. Rachelle B. Lintao, PhD of the Department of English and the Educational Technology Center gave a lecture on the different online learning tools that social media can provide. In her lecture, Lintao emphasized that with social media’s potential for increased connectivity, learners and teachers can interact and learn real-time despite physical distance.

To reinforce Lintao’s lecture, UST Educational Technology Center Director Anna Cherylle M. Ramos, MSc conducted a hands-on workshop on online collaboration tools at the Learning Lab.

Where laws fail, institutional policies come in
In his talk on statues, social media, and schools, education law expert Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada discussed, among others, the Data Privacy Act and how schools must carefully handle personal information—basic and sensitive—especially in an age when information is freely shared without much regard for consequence.

Likewise, Estrada underscored the need for institutional policies that will capture social media phenomena and are at present absent in the country’s laws. “Where the law lacks, the institutional policy should step in,” Estrada said, mentioning school-specific cases and a landmark Supreme Court ruling concerning a school in the Visayas.

Related to the talk on social media and the law is the session on “Handling Social Media Cases Constructively,” facilitated by Assoc. Prof. Pilar I. Romero, PhD, Principal of the UST Senior High School. During the session, Romero emphasized, among others, the concept of restorative justice and shared how discipline cases must not be handled always in a punitive way, but in a way that still forms students’ values.

The first one
LinkEd is the first social media summit focused on education concerns. It gathered close to a hundred participants, comprised of attendees from the National Capital Region, Benguet, Camarines Sur, Butuan City, Cebu, Bacolod City, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Bohol.

In his closing remarks, Social Media Bureau Director Fr. Christopher Jeffrey L. Aytona, O.P. encouraged the participants to join future conversations on social media, a phenomenon that changes quickly and impacts the lives of millions in a matter of seconds.