Teachers and Social Media

“If you can’t dance a step, you can’t teach it, and if you can’t teach it – we might as well all pack up and go home.”

from STRICTLY BALLROOM


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Dell’s Official Flickr Page

I read Steve Wheeler’s PLN post, ‘Tools of the trade’ this weekend and it made me wonder, what real penetration into the teaching profession has been achieved. I know it is all in the realm of ‘guesstimation’ but if you have a moment to vote and comment it would be appreciated.

Please help! I really would like to know.

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The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

27 Comments

  1. My guess is that a lot of teachers are hoping they will retire before they have to integrate social media tools into their lessons.

  2. Troy:

    How many regularly check email? Perhaps we need to go back a step…

  3. Dean Groom:

    Urgh, the problem here is that this is only one view of what ‘new technology’ is, and it omits so much of the technology that kids use already. It’s like saying – if teachers used these tools, then the problems would be solved. In my view, the toolsets being presented – and the way are implemented is still 180 degrees the opposite of how kids learn online. The question is, how many of these tool-pushers bother to actually enter spaces as kids to – with the intent to connect and have fun. And yet, this weekend more people watched MineCon stream online from Vegas that watched Apples last keynote. I’d rather they stuck to current practice that head into this foggy, un-proven realm.

    • Couldn’t agree more. A colleague’s son is coming to show me how to play Skyrim and Minecraft tomorrow to prepare me for a conference next month.

    • Darcy Moore:

      I found out about minecraft and Skyrim via twitter. IMO teachers who use social media are more likely to improve their own learning and participation in a range of (virtual) worlds, including the classroom.

  4. Deon:

    I have a question: do kids want their teachers invading their fun and enjoyment?

    If a day comes where your poll favors the ‘above 50%ers’ (for content creation, esp.), I reckon that student use would quickly become the less than 10% bracket.

    Not that I dispute the value of social media for connecting, collaborating and learning (as a teacher), but I don’t turn up uninvited to a kids’ birthday party/LAN session (do they even exist now?)/COD multiplayer match/Minecraft…whatever (what do you call an online Minecraft gathering?)!

    I totally agree with your last paragraph, Darcy.

    I’m not sure what is with Dean’s “urgh”, however…

  5. Darcy Moore:

    Deon,

    I do not see the issue with your first sentence. IMHO Australians, students, teachers or others, are not great creators of content but more consumers anyway. I hardly think that any fun will be wrecked.

    Dean probably felt an anti-web2.0 rant coming on and contained himself to an onomatopoeic outburst only ;)

  6. Deon:

    Darcy: your opinion, remember, is the opinion of a teacher, not a student. None of my students have asked me to add them on Facebook, nor send feedback on their learning via an online social media site.

    Do I want to have access to my students’ private lives and fun?

    No thanks. I have my own life!

    • Darcy Moore:

      Do not really understand your points and perhaps we are on different wavelengths here. :) Anyways, I am talking about social media use for professionals to connect about a range of new ideas, and to share.

      Maybe the teacher – student divide could be less (but that is not my push here). I do have a reasonably constant stream of students adding me on FB (which I have to ignore for a range of reasons). If you read comments at my blog from Danish students this year, you will see there are many ways of seeing all this. Teachers and students are not homogenous groups.

    • Wayne:

      Darcy,
      Many of my students want to be fb friends when they find out I use fb and twitter. However, I tell them that it would not be appropriate while I work with them as their teacher. If their still interested when they leave school then maybe.
      I have a number of ex-students as friends – rarely interact but it is nice to see what they are doing with their lives.

  7. Stephen:

    I think there is more use of technology than this survey shows us. I work in a school that has an interesting split of young Vs old. Obviously the young are into technology and use it socially as well as a teaching tool.
    However, there are a fair number of us “oldies” who use the tolls to teach as well as to communicate using social media.
    Many of my friends use Twitter to communicate and learn.
    At school we use Edmodo for students ion classrooms and for executive to pass information between members. Some even use it to communicate with their parents (ie parents of the students they teach).

    • Darcy Moore:

      @Stephen, I await the results with interest (but predict less than 10% will be the majority response). I do consider edmodo to be social media (and had it listed in my question along with other tools but the poll has a word-length and I edited it out). In my experience, younger teachers are not using twitter terribly much either (Facebook cuts across the age groups though). Virtually none of your principal colleagues are blogging or using twitter. They have iPhones and iPads now, some of them, but content creation online? Not so much. Lets see how many Bosses flock to PALNET http://www.palnet.edu.au/ (I’ll make a bet with you if you like).

      I think the other commenters here mention how little email is used at their schools which is always an indicator of the likelihood of social media being used. I believe statistics are available for each school. AT DHS, email is used very well.

  8. David Chapman:

    After several presentations, lots of hints and tips – I am alone in my school of 90+ teachers who use much social media. Certainly the only one on twitter. I probably shouldn’t mention that we are a 1:1 laptop school with a commercial LMS, and have been for some time.

    The usual complaint is the lack of time factor.

  9. Stephen Turner:

    Have to say my school would be under 10% as well. While I think the use of Facebook is quite high for strictly personal purposes (when you live in the country you tend to have a lot of distant friends/family to keep up with — even if you don’t use this stuff much otherwise), but I don’t see or know of any translation of that use into educational areas. While you talk about PLN, I still don’t think most see it as relating to education when students are banned from it (and there are so many barriers to interacting with students). There is likely a small amount of Blogging and wikis, but not heaps. Forget Twitter or Google Plus…

    But I have to admit I might not know what every teacher is doing! so quite frankly local surveys might increase my knowledge. But my feeling is that even personal use of Facebook (as an example) is not yet translating to a professional use. As far as I have seen, I’m the only one at my school using Maang on a very regular basis! (and that’s basically all professional).

    And to be perfectly honest, since I’m basically a computing professional, I’m not sure I can even be considered in all this, and I really need to learn a whole lot more about the application of these tools to teaching, even to advise other staff.

    Stephen.

  10. Hi,
    Actually ,I think of the number of teachers who are using socialo networks and blogging is a small number.

  11. Carmel:

    It doesn’t help that a number of university tutors in the education field actually discourage the use of social media. Ironically, even in a degree which is delivered in an online!

    Fortunately though, many pre-service teachers are finding the benefits in using social media in their studies and connecting with other education professionals despite the lack of support from university staff.

    • Troy:

      I am sad to hear that first part…it will be the future teachers that alter our perceptions of learning, of professional connection. I hope that comes across when I have been learning with future teachers.

  12. I knew the answer before taking the poll. It is self evident. The evidence has always been there online. There “seems” to be a lot of educators proactively using social media for professional development, growth, teaching, etc. Yet I think of the hundreds of thousands of educators in the world. They are not present.

    A new wave of educators are making their way on to the networks during the last 18 months and are even eclipsing the old guard of the boom years of 2007-2008. But the numbers are still low.

    If I had created the poll there would have been a “less than 1%” choice.

    In some organizations teachers are still reluctant to admit that they use tools such as Twitter or blogs.

    Education technology really shits me sometimes. I observe decision makers employing technology in a manner that is not cost effective, derives no real benefit for the teacher or learner, or is simply the wrong tool. They jump on the education technology bandwagon deploying this great tool or implementing this new technology with no research background, qualifications or experience to ground their decisions. They jump in blind, totally oblivious to the big picture and the long term impact. Most of all I find it deplorable when tools are used just to show “I can do it” more for self promotion than anything else.

    Better make sure that educators in decision making roles who deploy education technologies actually understand the field and are simply not users.

    • I believe it will be a decade at least before the majority of educators in decision making rolls (or a critical mass at least) will have internalised the use of social media for professional development. It took 30 years for the technology of mass printing to bring the reformation to full fruit. The DER laptop rollout has come with a whole raft of software that most teachers not only don’t use and don’t have a clue about but actively avoid.

    • Darcy Moore:

      John,

      Yes, I created the poll know what the response would be too. :(

      I didn’t create a > 1% option as the person doing the poll would have to be in a school with more than a 100 staff to answer. It didn’t seem logical but I do know how you feel and did consider it.

      It is frustrating to see the slow uptake and has been for years.

      You have been a big technology users for eons and share so generously. We all appreciate it. Classroom teachers often see themselves as not being able to bring about change. I disagree. Anyone who feels frustrated by what they see their employer, ‘Big Systems’, ‘leaders’, governments, ministers, etc do must step – up. It is too easy and pretty ineffective to chuck stones – even though it may feel good – unless it results in change.

      If you are annoyed by the funding of big cross sector initiatives. Maybe the time has come to run some of them. I do not jest. In Australia, anyone who sticks their head out of the trench better have a good helmet and flak jacket on, as plenty will be ready to mow them down. It is a tough job for this people as everyone knows best. Next minute you’ll be called a ‘self-promoter ;) Gore Vidal, tongue in cheek, summed it up best:

      “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”

      Finally, I suspect, that there are very few ‘educators’ around that are truly so well-trained in IT that they can participate as anything other experienced ‘users’. This is the rub, one needs to be IT savvy, cut out for leadership and determined to affect change for the students and teachers in our schools. A tall order it seems.

      Thanks for your heartfelt comment.

  13. Interesting that you post this. I’m creating an ICT PL project this term for the self-identified ‘advanced’ tech user teachers at my school. Currently working on a PLN element which will walk them through what one is, how to identify their current PLN and provide avenues through which they can expand it.

    It’ll be interesting to see if it attracts eye-rolling or behaviour change. Will keep you posted on the range of excuses or alternatively, the range of positive responses :)

  14. Ekaterina:

    Hello Darcy,

    You raised a really good question. I believe that is a must for teachers to incorporate social media into their classroom because it will enrich the lesson as well as teach the students that accessing new information is easy and fun. This will hopefully lead the students to watch documentaries on Youtube on a topic they maybe interested in or correspond with students from different countries which will enable the students to become more curious on what truly is out there. In my undergraduate career I used the wiki a couple of times as well as YouTube and Twitter. Even in my graduate program now, one of my classes is using a wiki for the purpose of creating an online textbook. The opportunities with social media are endless and they should be incorporated into each lesson plan when possible.

    -Ekaterina

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