I am a fairly prolific user of social media. I am an active twitter user, involved in a number of online forums and a member of a number of professional groups that interact on Facebook. My online professional community one of my main methods of professional sanity and in addition, it helps me keep up to date with what is happening both here and offshore. I am pretty confident that without it, I would be somewhat stuck in the equivalence of the educational ‘dark ages’.
Which social media platform bests supports my engagement in Professional Development? Why?
Being connected allows me to expand my skill base, access peers and like minds from all over the globe, keep up to date and relevant on all matters pertaining to education and most importantly, help me understand the power of the collective!
I find it fascinating how many educators and leaders are still disengaged with connecting via social media. I have had people tell me they 'don’t have time for that kind of carry on’, but I would ask, do you have the time to not be engaged? The tsunami of resources and the access to people who can enhance your teaching and leadership perspectives make the small investment of time well worth the effort. I know that my involvement assists in keeping me relevant – there is so much that is happening across the world that I am unsure how I would ever be able to keep on top of it all without access to the huge resource bank that is the global educators network! It does not matter what time of the day, or night, it might be – you can find out information, access resources or be connected to another leader or teacher from somewhere in the world within moments. Most importantly, you can follow areas you are passionate about (regular readers of my blog will know that Coaching is the thing that sings to me) and connect with ‘gurus’ that you would not normally have access to. Some of the best professional development I have been involved in has been during a twitter chat where the guest is one of my educational ‘heroes’. To be able to seek advice and guidance from these stalwarts of the industry makes my professional skill base grow and I believe has to be of great benefit to my school.
But more than that, social media gives me an opportunity to give back to the profession. For all that I gain benefit, I would like to think that I do more than just ‘take’, but professionally give back. When I support the #BFC630NZ crew each week, my hosting of the Tuesday morning slot allows me to give back to all the professionals that give their time to participate and share their expertise, by sharing my own expertise with the group. It is such a rich source of teacher voice, and hearing perspectives of teachers from across the country (and often from other countries) also assists me in making things better within my own school. I felt the same way when the #ldrchatnz chat was born earlier this year – seeing it as an opportunity to not only connect with other leaders across the country (and offshore) but to help set it up and host.
I have received so much professionally, and made so many amazing connections from the social networks I have, giving back seemed the appropriate and professional thing, to do.
My ‘go to’ is twitter. I find it is a personalized (Melhuish, K. 2013)
backdrop to improving my own professional development. I sometimes wonder what my teaching would have been like if I had been able to connect globally with the profession ‘back in the dark ages’ when I was teaching. At the time I felt quite a ‘lone nut’, doing things in my classroom that would be considered innovative by todays standards, let alone then! To have been able to have ‘cross contaminated’ my thinking with real live teachers who were doing the same things across the world would have been amazing – and who knows what kinds of opportunities might have fallen out of that!
I have always been an early adopter of educational innovation because it fascinates me, especially tech based, and even now, as a leader, I see things and imagine how it might play out in the classroom. Mindlab has been such an amazing opportunity for me – a real chance to take the time to ‘play’, ‘wonder’ and ‘experiment’ – in my busy world it is a privilege! It is a real case of ‘you can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can not – not ever – take the teacher out of the leader’.
Twitter allows me a chance to see, hear and interact with educators who are doing amazing things across the world. I get to experience and understand the contexts of many classrooms and leadership situations, and most importantly, I get to connect with other ‘lone nuts’. The world is less professionally isolating – instead, it is a rich tapestry of ideas, wonderings and out side the box happenings! It is, in many respects, the equivalent of my adult sandbox!
When I connect with others, I connect with a purpose in mind, something that makes my connection more than just a social opportunity and more of a learning one Silius, K., Miilumäki, T., Huhtamäki, J., Tebest, T., Meriläinen, J. & Pohjolainen, S.(2010).
Finally, social media is an opportunity to be embraced, not another ‘thing’ to do! The benefits are immense. For me, the ability to garner ideas from others and seek feedback on initiatives, and the way others from a wide range of contexts within education can challenge, contextualize and add value to my thinking are hugely beneficial - for both myself and my school.
SO, why wouldn’t you!
Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrived on 05 May, 2015 from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/han...
Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2013). Social media for teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://www.pearsonlearningsolutions.com/assets/downloads/reports/social-media-for-teaching-and-learning-2013-report.pdf#view=FitH,0
Silius, K., Miilumäki, T., Huhtamäki, J., Tebest, T., Meriläinen, J. & Pohjolainen, S.(2010). Students’ motivations for social media enhanced studying and learning. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 2(1), 54-67. Retrieved from http://www.kmel-journal.org/ojs/index.php/online-publication/article/view/55/39