Social Media is the New Normal for Educators

The term “new normal” is the lingo used to describe drastic change in doing something or life after a major event. The change is usually quick and immediate. It alters one’s approach to something or way of life. In the educational world a slower transition is happening that will create a new normal.  That change agent is social media. Social media has been around for some time but its practical use is relatively new to educators. As I engage more and more educators in the use of social media for educational purposes I hear a lot of the same questions. Here are some of the most common questions with my responses.

 

Why has it taken so long for educators to find value in social media? Well, we are practitioners who have used chalk and slate for over one hundred years! The reality is that change comes slowly in the world of education and cost is always a major factor. A positive for social media is it is relatively low or no cost. The other issue is that finding value for educators is on a case by case basis. Every educator needs to find his/her own value in using social media. For some this happens quickly. For others it will take some time. But no matter what the pace is in finding value I believe it is the responsibility of those of us engaging in it to help those who are not to find that value.

 

Isn’t this a flash in the pan? NO, No, no! This is not a dot com industry issue. Using social media in the educational world is not a fad. It is still evolving and growing. How can something be a fad when it connects so many people, provides so many resources, and its use continues to expand? Educators have clamored for years about the need to expand their abilities to reach other professionals, their students, parents and the community. They have also asked for choice in their own professional development. Social media is providing these opportunities and the ability to do these things and others are ever expanding.

 

How do you have the time for all of this? I don’t see using social media as a burden or waste of time. I believe it has added to my knowledge base and ability as an educator. It has opened opportunities to learn from and help other educators. Yes, I probably am on more than is necessary, but the reality is you can engage as much or as little as you wish. It is a personal choice how much time you dedicate to using social media in your educational life.

 

Isn’t social media personal and not professional? It depends on the application you are using and the purpose you have for it. I use Facebook for friends and family, Twitter, Tout, Google+, Edmodo, etc for professional activities. You need to find a balance and draw the line between personal and professional uses of social media. I’m not tweeting pictures of my family on Twitter and I’m not posting this blog on Facebook. I have drawn a clear line between personal and professional use.

 

 

Do you really learn anything using social media? Absolutely! I have engaged in more professional collaboration, read more educational articles, asked for assistance from other educators and provided information and support when requested. The social media environment is filled with valuable knowledge and people. Yes, it is true you need to figure out who to follow, what to read and who to engage but the time it takes to do this is minimal. Once you get the basics your eyes will open to this fantastic world. The new normal in education is using social media to learn, collaborate and connect. Our ranks are growing but misconceptions still exist. For those engaging help those still trying to figure it out. For those still trying to figure it out, I hope the answers to these questions help in the process.

Scott Rocco

Scott Rocco

Superintendent of Schools at Spotswood Public Schools

Scott Rocco is Superintendent of Schools in Spotswood, New Jersey, adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey, instructor in the NJEXCEL program, and co-founder/co-moderator of #Satchat on Twitter; a weekly global educational conversation. He is also a founding member of EdCampNJ. Scott has given keynote, conference and group presentations on the use of social media for educators, school safety, marketing yourself, digital citizenship, and various leadership topics. His blog site is evolvingeducators.wordpress.com which discusses how the integration of technology is resulting in the evolution of our educational system. Scott is dedicated to positively and productively engaging educators in a dialogue that improves student learning, enhances instruction, and creates effective learning environments for all who attend and work in schools. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRRocco and LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/scottrocco or contact him at ScottRocco@gmail.com.

http://evolvingeducators.wordpress.com

  • John Darrell Sparks

    I was at an ESL Prep Academy this morning at SMU in Dallas. I was stunned by the number of educators I spoke with which are ignoring social media. Excuse #1: I have class and meetings all week and when I get home I have X number of kids to take care of. Personally, I think social media is so important it should be added to the states core standards and knowledge and skills. It also should be listed as a competency under the technology domain in the current teacher evaluation system. It’s all my students do. They can’t get off their facebook, they want more Pinterest. It’s where the learning is taking place. It’s what is driving our culture and engaging them. If teachers say they’re too busy for it (which is what I heard a lot of today) then one day I’m afraid teaching is going to be too busy for them. What are your thoughts about this. Feel free to look me up on LInkedin (/in/sparkyourlinkedin), facebook (john.d.sparks) or twitter (@johnsparksdfw). I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Scott Rocco

    John,
    Your statement of, “it’s where the learning is taking place” is a statement that is becoming more and more true daily in schools and classrooms all over the world.

  • http://twitter.com/TestPrepFUN CT EDUCATION

    I conduct a lot of Professional Development in CT. I sympathize with the teachers I see who have 29 elementary students in a class — many of these students do not speak English, many cannot read, and all live in poverty. It is truly exhausting to simply “be there” for this population day after day. I can totally understand teachers who need a break from learning after 3 pm. HOWEVER, what I do is teach tech to teachers and students at the same time. I believe this offers a wonderful opportunity for teachers to model learning — show patience, battle frustration, and ask good questions after listening. Teachers are often taught by students and it’s a wonderful weight off the teachers if they can step down from the “all-knowledge-must-come-from-me” position. In the domain of technology teachers can have fun treating students as colleagues and that authentic respect does the student a world of good :)

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  • http://twitter.com/NikPeachey NikPeachey

    I work with teachers around the globe and also often hear from them that they can’t put in the extra time outside of class to deal with their students through social media and be creating VLEs for them etc etc and to be honest I think they are quite right. This isn’t just the responsibility of teachers. As we move towards Blended learning becoming more of a norm rather than an exception, it has to be part of the learning strategy of the school and paid time needs to be built in to teachers duties to cover this. If digital learning is to be successful the burden of responsibility cannot rest only with the teacher.
    Best

    Nik Peachey

  • http://twitter.com/ICAL_TEFL ICAL TEFL

    I believe many teachers think they’re too busy for social media because they don’t necessarily understand exactly what sm is and how to use it effectively. A lot of this comes down to school policies and (lack of) professional development in this area.

  • http://urtak.com rgibralter

    Thanks, Scott. Many companies also are slow to embrace social media for learning. Great recap here. And, Nik, thanks for picking this up, as you have many social intelligence tools like Urtak http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/2010/04/creating-social-polls-and.html

  • Sheri Watkins

    Great post! Wish more teachers and parents “listened” to these tips! Thanks for spreading the word on the value of social media!

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