Great question, Julie! I know in my personal life, I've debated leaving Facebook. The main reason for my wife and I to have even made an FB account was to stay in communication with family that live in other states. School-wise, I find it interesting that our district blocks Facebook, but allows us to have accounts. I have an account for my choir, and the district even has an account. We just can't access them from school...
Google+ and Twitter are both accessible, but I haven't found strong classroom uses for them (though I hope to use Hangouts this year for some cross-state co-teaching and evaluation.) I maintain a website for my choir, which is where most of my online information for school comes from and is delivered to. Do you integrate any social media in to your classroom?
I find it very interesting that your school let's different groups, as well as the school, use FB but blocks Facebook. What reasons do they have for doing that? I am assuming the various groups that use it are being accessed by parents, teachers and other community members, so why the block? Interesting......
I have seen many classroom Twitter accounts. Some use it for students to tweet out what they are learning, others have used it to send out tweets as a historical figure you are studying, and others who tweet from the point of view of the classroom pet. I do use Twitter for professional and personal uses. I have a great educational PLN established but also use it to keep up with my hobbies, gardening and photography. Do you use Twitter for personal or professional reason for yourself?
I use Google+ for a variety of personal and professional reasons. I belong to numerous groups for everything from STEM to photography to gardening to Google apps. There is a wealth of information to be had in these groups. I have also noticed that more and more people are using Hangouts for meetings. The only drawback is there is a limit of 10 people who can participate at once. I will be anxious to hear how Hangouts work for you and your cross-state meetings.
I don't teach in a classroom, but work with teachers in various schools where most social media tools are blocked . I am working with techs constantly to try to get them to open the filter a bit. I find it is lack of information and knowledge on their part on how the tools can be used to enhance learning. Change is slow, but I have made progress.
Do many of the teachers you work with use any social media tools?
This is an interesting conversation on a lot of levels. You're both talking about social media's presence in schools, which is a particularly compelling side to the coin. My biggest interest in this area is in how the pervasiveness of social media, particularly as a professional learning tool, impacts educators' lives. Almost daily I bat around some questions:
- Just because we can be professionally connected all the time, should we be?
- Are we too quickly moving to a landscape in which we assume that educators are just going to engage online after hours and further extend their already extended work day?
- What will be the impact for educators who want to opt out of this?
You raise some great questions Marshall. Here are my thoughts:
Like anything, choosing when and how to be connected needs to be a personal choice. I want to decide when, if and how I want to be connected with others. I am the one who has to identify what I need and how to best address those needs. It's a personal thing and I feel it needs to remain that way. On the flip side, if I don't know what I don't know (what really is out there for educators) then it is helpful to have someone "in the know" show me what is available and then I can make my decision from there. I do think of myself as being fairly "connected" but honestly, there are times when I just want to disengage and give my brain a rest! I just read an article the other day that stated that being "disconnected" for a weekend or whatever is the new, trendy thing to do!
I think we are a long way off from assuming that most educators will engage online after hours. I am around a LOT of teachers and it still amazes me how many don't know what SM tools are available for professional development. They know Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc for personal reasons, but many don't see the academic uses.
With that in mind I wouldn't mind seeing more districts take advantage of what these SM tools have to offer. I know of several districts that host their own chats on Twitter, have a school Edmodo account, and even some who use Instagram to share student learning. As long as these tools are used in an authentic way, to help teachers grow professionally, help a district reach their goals and/or address the needs of the teachers, I think it would be a great choice. Much better than most schools typical PD where the teachers engage in a "sit n git" session, grade papers, and act disrespectfully to the presenter.
Right now most SM is being used by the "go-getters" in the field who would be using something else if SM tools weren't so pervasive. These are teachers that are constantly striving to improve their craft and gain knowledge from others. These are the educators who won't be stopped because of who they are, and the time of day isn't going to deter them one bit.
Let's not forget about the global implications of social media and how differently it is used depending upon where you live and what your circumstances might be. Social media has the power to start rebellions, bring families together, find missing people, and bring down the stock market. Just as with other media, there's going to be the good, the bad, and the ugly.
For me as a teacher, I use it sparingly and selectively.
This is pretty much one of my major social media outlets, and I feel it is very helpful. I have also gone on Facebook fasts, and typically find I am happier when I do. Balance, as with anything is the key. I think I saw another user pointing out that the Arab spring was made possible by facebook and twitter. Social media really is the printing press of our day.
This conversation has me contemplating my own use of Social Media. As I reflect on my use over the past year, I find an interesting trend. I check Facebook once a day to see what/how family (and close friends are doing.) I have cut my Twitter time down significantly (but still try to find something work updating on a daily or every other day basis.) I've determined I need to have time with family and friends rather than be glued/tied into social media tools. Is it possible to consider Social Media helpful on a "part time basis" and still spend quality time with family/friends?
I have always been a little leery when it comes to social media. Although I have a face book and twitter account, I only use them for school related purposes. When my daughter was in college, I would have social media parties to access the sites of my daughter and her friends to ensure that what they were uploading to the site was appropriate would not come by to haunt them after graduating and going out into the world to find a job. With the number of people who have been fired because of their posts on social media (http://www.theroot.com/blogs/grapevine/internet-getting-everyone-fired), it is a good thing we had those parties. What are you doing to help students consider the ethical side when posting to social media sites?
Personally, for my own children, we have discussed at great length the possible repercussions of posting questionable pics/comment/links on any social media website. When they were little we explored and played the games on NetSmartz and watched the videos as well. My kids had to sign the pledge that they would be safe online.
Now that they are older (16 and 20) we still discuss what some people have posted online and what happened because of their carelessness. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, where my daughter is a junior in finance, the school does an EXCELLENT job of persuading the students to set all accounts on private and not to post anything that may come back and haunt them when applying for jobs. I know most of my daughter's friends have private accounts now.
I encourage the teachers I train to have very honest discussions with their students, regardless of age. Children need to be aware of their digital footprint before they become active users in an online setting.
I think a lot of people feel as he does. I work hard with my students to teach digital citizenship and the importance of treating people appropriately while online. Social Media isn't going away and as teachers, it can be a powerful tool for professional learning and classroom management.
We just have to be more judicious in who and how we interact while online.