Thursday, June 23, 2016

Social Media - A Connected Educators Utopia

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’. 

Key benefits of social media that are beneficial to teaching and learning?
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
Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2013). Social media for teaching and learning. Retrieved from,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


  1. Steph you lunatic !!- You are one hell of a leader / an eduactor and expert on all this stuff WOooooWooo ! Where are you from again ?...How many Blogs to go ?

    1. Yes, we are nearly there!! You should join some of these twitter chats - I think you would get a lot out of it and the perspective you would provide would be most interesting!!
      Lunatic - somedays that is probably quite accurate! It will be the southern in me! It helps that I find all of this fascinating and I love connecting with the wide variety of people out there. Its reassuring to know there are other people out there that are just as passionate about all things innovative as I am!!

  2. Twitterverse is the educational lone nut's paradise! I have been so inspired to really test ideas and truly delighted to be in contact with people who can extend where my instincts were taking me, e.g. your blog, Steph!

    Realistically, though, we are in the midst of an educational revolution as the industrial age model begins to morph into something that best serves our digital future focused education. Best get on board and ride the tsunami rather than be drowned by it.

    Tweet, tweet.

  3. You and I are on the same page - and I salute every sentence here. Absolutely embracing you from the other end of my smart phone.

    I too love the collusion of like minds and the collision of ideas as we debate with others in the chats. This is the power of collaborative reflective practice. I always think of the Twitterati as those little conscience cherubs sitting on our shoulders! (No reference to anyone!s physical attributes - I'm talking virtual here!)

    And like you, I feel that I am giving back, as one of the aunties of the edchatnz lot!

    Why not embrace new technologies? They have been invented to fill a need. It's what we do as humans. We ask ourselves, "what if?" And "why not?" And in our case, "where to next?"

    1. Ahh Annemarie, you 'tweet' my language!
      It is interesting how there is the 'twitterati' within the tweetsmosphere! I'm trying to remember what that looked like back in the 'dark ages' prior to the tech breaking down the borders! I've always been able to find real life leaders and teachers to 'hang' with - not all as 'lone nut' like, but good for vouching off the various ideas.
      I agree about 'where to next?' - not being an officially recognised 'futurist' it's hard to say - but how exciting? I'm guessing it will be an exciting ride and pretty sure I'll see you there Annemarie!
      Ps 'one of the Aunties' - love it! In my eyes, you are one of the twitterati - virtual tiara and sparkly ball gown heading your way!! I appreciate your feedback and love the POV you bring to any debate!

  4. Love your passion Ximena. I agree that the face of education is in transition, and I have always felt it's our professional responsibility to keep abreast of what's going on! We've got to remember that our students and the future they face is not only uncertain, it's untried and unpredictable! Keeping abreast of what's happening and making connections isn't about trying to second guess this future, merely assist our students (and us) to adapt, evolve and 'ride' that tsunami - perhaps in a custom designed surfboard! We expect our Students to be conversant in the Key Competencies but our Teachers also need to be active in this domain! How well do they participate and contribute to their professional world locally and globally! Furthermore, we can't just all 'take' - if we did then the message we send is onesided. As an aside, I think as a profession we forget the collective power we have - I wonder what kind of collaborative magic we might unleash if we simply connected more? Thanks for helping craft the 'collective' surfboard!!

  5. I'm really excited and inspired by you and other future focused collaborative leaders so thank you for taking the time to write here and tweet, tweet : ) . Dunno about a surfboard; I was more imagining a huge waka- Hoea rā!

    As for what we can create and unleash... nobody knows what is possible, until we try so best get all hands on deck!

    1. True the Waka will hold more!! I fancied the idea of being a surfing expert but Waka paasenger works for me too!
      Thank you for taking the time to feedback and I agree - lets get in with it!

  6. I stand on two fronts, the digital side of me completely embraces social media for learning, sharing and for systems like education- which can never receive too much attention. I think if part of your life is displayed to the world in a manner which you feel comfortable, it is okay. Everyone has boundaries; what may be comfortable for you might be off-limits to others.

  7. Thank you for sharing such valuable information and tips about social media. This can give insights and inspirations for us; very helpful and informative! Would love to see more updates from you in the future.

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  8. Thank you for sharing! This article is so helpful and informative; I hope your article can inspire more people, like it did to me.