Topic: What specific changes have you made as an educator that are a direct result of social media involvement or being connected? Why do we connect?
Where to begin on this #edchat summary? I honestly think this was simultaneously one of the most uplifting #edchat conversations in awhile – and at the same time it was one of the most frustrating. I say uplifting because I literally could not keep up with all the positive things people were saying about social media and how it has impacted their teaching. That’s wonderful and inspiring.
At the same time, though, it was more than a little frustrating for me. I love #edchat, and those that participate in it. But I worry that we’re an insulated and a-typical group. We don’t represent the average teacher: we represent the very connected and committed teacher. So while it’s awesome that so many are benefitting from social media, I worry that the movement isn’t broad enough.
The central question to me is not: “Is social media a beneficial thing for educators?” We know that it is. And while it’s nice to see a bunch of positive tweets about all the ways that social media has revolutionized the way that we look at education, we also need to remember that we are not everyone. We’re not even most educators. We’re an isolated group that needs to act as missionaries to the rest of the education world.
I’m not saying #edchat is for everyone. In fact, I’m not even saying that social media participation is for everyone. What I am saying is that connecting is for everyone. It’s part of being a life-long learner. And it needs to be a larger part of what teachers do when not in the classroom. The question is: “How?”
Main themes from the discussion:
- Social media is amazing. Again, there was no way that I could possibly have kept up with or copied all the best tweets about how social media has revolutionized education. I picked some of my personal favorites and pasted them below, but I strongly encourage you to check out the archive of this chat when it goes up. I really think that showing this to “non-believers” might be a great way to get them to test the waters of social media.
- We need to get more educators into social media, because it’s great professional development. Unfortunately, not everyone is involved in something like #edchat, and not everyone has a list of education blogs that feeds into their RSS reader every morning. There are a lot of educators who are simply not “plugged in.” In some ways, that might be okay. There’s still a place in the world for the old fashioned, as long as they still make the effort to keep their hand in and keep striving to improve on a personal level. But there’s a lot of teachers who simply don’t, either due to a lack of time or a lack of motivation. How can we change that? Most likely: by showing them how their lives could improve by plugging in.
- #EdChat is awesome, but is it for everyone? I really don’t think that every teacher should participate in #edchat, despite the fact that it is, undoubtedly, awesome. But it’s simply not for everyone. It’s fast, it’s frantic, it’s disorganized, and it happens in real time. That just won’t work for some people. Fortunately, there are so many options out there, from blogs to webcasts to podcasts to like webinars and online discussions to… some stuff that I haven’t heard about yet. The point is: there are options, and we need to keep that in mind when we try to recruit the rest of the teachers at our schools and in our districts. Tailor the message to suit the listener. We already try to do it with students. Why not with other educators?
- How do we spread the word that social media isn’t just useless noise? It always frustrates me when I hear someone who has never used Twitter say something like “I hate Twitter. It’s just noise. I don’t care what you had for breakfast this morning.” I manage a couple feeds for my work, each with several hundred “friends,” and I never read about what people ate for breakfast that day. Ever. Still, the nay-sayers do have a point: there is a lot of useless crap out there. That’s why it’s a good thing there are lighthouses like Larry Ferlazzo and the #edchat moderators out there! It’s by exposing “outsiders” to sources like these that we may start seeing more adoption of social media. And that would only mean more gradual improvements to education.
My favorite tweets from the discussion:
MertonTech Hard for me to figure how I have changed. I started out in this field using social media.
DrThomasHo As an educator, I have QUESTIONED more than ever what we have been doing as a result of social media revealing so many alternatives!
ShellTerrell I have attended more conferences online and face-to-face as a result of the use of social media.
davidwees Social media has increased my options for where I can go for information.
msmith833 I’ve also opened up more professional development opportunities for my staffs as a result of social media.
CTuckerEnglish I was just chatting with friend via social media who mentioned using Mail Chimp. Because of that conversation I’m going to send a monthly newsletter to parents.
michellek107 I am teaching in my “dream school” because of social media. I met and got to know the founder of our school on Twitter.
jswiatek Social media has allowed me to make connections all over the world which allows me to bring real world learning to my kids.
marciarpowell I like that idea of refining our practice and ideas. Social media can be your pulpit (not my goal) or a collaboration platform.
davidwees Social media has started flattening hierarchies. It’s now less about my official position and more about my ideas.
ToddWhitaker Twitter is the best free professional development there is!
ShellTerrell Before social media, my ideas helped only my learners in my classroom. After social media, my ideas helped educators worldwide
bhsprincipal Our students will have a greater chance for success if they know how to build a network. It’s helpful for educators to model this.
tomwhitby Social media provides the questions we need to ask, as well as answers we need to hear.
Sheila_Johnston I wish I could say social media has allowed me to tear down my classroom walls however, my students don’t even have daily computer access.
mbfxc Social media has changed teacher preparation, allowing teachers to connect and learn with other teachers and students!
stumpteacher As with anything in life, you get out what you put in… social media is no different
To follow the complete discussion, look for the full archive here. They’re usually posted up by the end of the week.
Looking to discuss #edtech in depth? Check out the LinkedIn group: Edutech Trends, Visions, Passions.
New to #EdChat?
If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts:
- If you would like to join others in transforming the discussion into action, please feel free to join the Edchat group on the Educator PLN ning.
- Jerry Swiatek does an incredible job of posting each archived transcript on the #edchat wiki created by Steve Johnson. This way you can look back at your favorites!
- Find previous summaries here on this blog – see #edchat category on right sidebar
- Follow other Edchatters and make sure you are on this Twitter list if you participate in #Edchat!
- Read summaries of the 7pm EST/1 am CET Edchat discussions.
If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.
What do you think? Leave a comment! We would love to hear from you.