Today I wanted to share with the readers of this blog my top 6 reasons why I am so pleased with social media as a tool for Educators! I have been teaching now for over 7 years, and 6 of these have been teaching part-time as an “online” or distance educator. Throughout these formative years, I have struggled, as all new teachers do, with figuring out what Educating is all about. I have sought like-minded Educators in my district, attended many Professional Development workshops, and collaborated with my peers at the school level. This has allowed me to grow and develop as an educator, which I value very much. The one concern I had over these developing years was how difficult or how time consuming this was. Collaboration happens just a couple of times through the year, Professional Development only offered 5 days in a school year. Conferences were typically expensive, far away and did not cover the curriculum I taught my students.
With the development of Social Media, especially Twitter, I have had more Professional Development in the last 6 months than the last 6 years! I have ‘met’ more like-minded Educators, worked collaboratively with people from all over North America, have been able to virtually “attend” conferences that were far away through backchannels and have expanded my understanding and knowledge greatly! How did I do this? By spending about 30 mins a day on twitter, reading the stream, clicking interesting links and by finding other like-minded Educators to ‘follow’.
I have found new ideas and strategies to try. I have been inspired by what others have been able to achieve. I have been helped by people I’ve never met in person, but have communicated with often. So, what are my top 6 reasons why I use Social Media?
- Equality – Twitter and other Social Media is very flat. You can communicate, follow, and converse with anyone else on the medium. This has allowed me to dialogue with Trustees, Superintendents, CIO’s, Politicians, and other important people that make up my ‘community’.
- Collaboration – Got a good idea? Share it and see who else wants to contribute and have access to the final product! Twitter and other social media has allowed me to find fellow online English educators, as well as others to share challenges, pitfalls, success, and dreams. It becomes easy to network and work together with other web 2.0 tools.
- Discussion and Debate – The weekly #edchat discussions and debates on twitter allow Educators and anyone else interested to talk about issues we all face. What works? What doesn’t? What can you do to help your school? What should districts do to support their educators? Each week there is a new topic to debate and discuss with hundreds of participants and points of view.
- Better than Expensive Conferences – There has been a recent trend of conferences for educators becoming very expensive. Coupled with travel and accommodations, Educators are quickly priced out of attending such conferences. Social Media lets me attend pro-d EVERY SINGLE DAY. You never know what you’re going to learn when you jump on twitter for 10 minutes in the morning!
- International Community - Social Media can help “tear down that wall” as Ronald Regan once said during the Cold War. My community of Educators is truly international, with many voices coming from all over North and South America, Europe, Australia and other countries. With developments in real-time translation from Google Translate, this is going to grow and expand, as it won’t be hindered with language difficulties any longer! Star trek technology? Nope, its here today.
- Local Community – Twitter and other Social Media tools have allowed me to explore and connect with other Educators located right in my backyard! Apart from the teachers at my local school, it was difficult to find other Educators in my district who are working on really cool ideas and strategies. Through twitter I am able to connect with educators from around Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, and the Province, allowing me to get a sense of what’s happening in lots of other districts. Together, we can all ‘rise the tide’ of BC Education!
I hope my exploration of the reasons why I love Social Media so much as an Educator and a Professional have helped you understand why it’s important to try these new tools. Just like the telegraph, the telephone, the television and other important technological developments have changed the way we interconnect, these tools are paradigm shifting, truly creating a flat, fair and fun landscape for 21st Century Educators!
Got another reason why Social Media is good? Participate in the discussion by adding your thoughts below!