Critically discuss the use of social media in my teaching and professional development.
I am lucky in that I work within an e-Learning environment, where our students are BYOD and therefore have 1:1 access to digital devices. Because I teach within this environment I have learnt to utilise a range of social media in my teaching practice. This is my first year in an e-Learning whanau, but I have always used social media in my previous classes. What is different this year for me is my exposure to a wider range of social media, developing my understanding of the function of different forms of social media (navigating my way through the sites) and especially an escalated use of social media in my teaching. I now use this form of technology on a daily basis and it is the norm.
I previously blogged about how my students and I use blogs, shared Google docs, Google Classroom, Edmodo and other social media tools that are appropriate for our current teaching and learning needs. I also mentioned that we had little need for Facebook because of this, but the statement I had made that we had little need for “social media for teaching and learning” was based on my understanding that social media was simply social networking and for socialising – not for educational purposes that were appropriate to my learners or myself. I have since learned (after some quick googling) that social media is ALL of the above and have come to the realisation that how I perceive social media influences how I use it. If I have negative perceptions about social media, this becomes a limitation as to how I could potentially use social media as an innovative tool for teaching and learning. Other potential challenges that may also be an influencing factor on how I use (or don’t use) social media, is being aware of the negatives or the dangers of social media on our students, e.g., internet safety or cyberbullying, protection of intellectual property, reflecting digital citizenship, leaving digital footprints, etc. However, this should not be a deterrent to using social media. Apart from Establishing Safeguards (2012), if routines and expectations are well-established and consistently visited, then a level of trust between teachers and students can be built on this.
As supported by Connected Educators (2013) and through Mind Lab and in previous professional development, I have been an active member of online communities, such as the Virtual Learning Network (VLN). Being part of an online community was initially challenging itself – I felt pushed to reflect more deeply and ask more critical questions of myself, because: 1) I didn’t want to come across as stupid within a group of professionals; 2) I did not want to fail; 3) I sometimes took it personally when I received constructive feedback or comments. In saying that, I learnt pretty quickly that this was all ‘part and parcel’ of being part of an educational online community. We are in this community to challenge and motivate and support each other to different levels. When you understand that, you begin to open yourself up to many more ways that you can use social media to improve yourself. And never mind any random trolls.
BIBILIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES:
- Connected Educators
- Establishing Safeguards
- 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 http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/han.