‘’Having knowledge but lacking the power to express it clearly is no better than never having any ideas at all’’ – Pericles
Pericles and the rest of the ancient world may not have had the likes of Facebook and Twitter but you can bet if they had done, they would have seen it as a powerful way to share knowledge and communicate with each other.
So what makes social media such an effective tool for communication and by extension, professional development?
- It’s easy to find and share interesting and valuable content.
- You can join in conversations on a global scale and in real-time.
- Most social media sites are free.
The majority of people are aware of social media even if they either don’t use it or use it very little. In fact, you may only be reading this post because you followed a link from a social media platform. Maybe you accessed it via one of our official social media channels or maybe one of your colleagues or friends shared it on their personal networks. Either way, social media has contributed to this blog post being accessible to a larger group of people than I could possibly hope to reach otherwise.
Social media offers us fantastic opportunities to easily access and share content that matters to us as well as join in conversations that pique our interest. Of course, exactly what that content is will be different for each person but as a real-time communications tool, social media is pretty hard to beat.
But what does this mean in the context of education?
It means teachers no longer need to feel like they are working in isolation.
‘’We read to know we are not alone’’ – C.S. Lewis
Educators from around the world can communicate directly and instantly with each other. They can discuss curriculum planning, different teaching strategies or seek support from their peers like never before. The host of platforms available, most of which are free, also make it possible for those in the education profession to develop a dialogue with an individual or a group in almost any part of the world and at almost any time of the day.
In late 2014 Teacher Toolkit compiled a very helpful list of 101 teachers to follow on Twitter which served to highlight the number of highly active education professionals on the site.
David Weston (@Informed_Edu) and Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) are two of my favourites. They provide a constant source of thought-provoking and sharable content designed to inspire and inform. The fact that they have 17.5k and 30.4k followers respectively also speaks for itself.
Twitter isn’t the only helpful social media platform for teachers. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and many other sites also act as valuable channels for education professionals to share and communicate ideas with each other and with learners. Earlier this year, Edutopia updated their blog post, ‘Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas’. This includes a really useful list of ‘how to’ guides and articles, suitable for novice and experienced social media users alike.
I’m not saying that social media should be your only source when it comes to developing your educational expertise. However with such a wealth of opportunities to connect with and learn from fellow educators on platforms such as Twitter, it would seem to make sense to include social media in your professional development toolkit.
How do you use social media in a professional development context? What would your tips be to both new and experienced teachers alike?