The use of social media as a professional development tool in the educational world is finally taking hold. As it progresses, those using it need to understand that it is not a one-dimensional environment for learning.
In the early stages of my understanding and use of social media to learn and grow as an educator I saw it and used it as a simple conversational tool. In reality it has grown with the advent of easy to use and interactive on-line resources and tools.
Here are 3 ways you can take a one-dimensional social media conversation and make it into a multi-dimensional professional development opportunity for you and your educational colleagues:
- Establish a conversational forum (basic one-dimension aspect). This can be in its most simplistic form on Twitter with a chat topic and specific hashtag, Google+ by forming a community or another chat resource. You develop a time, topic, questions and begin the conversation. It’s one dimensional because once the conversation ends the learning ends.
- Link the conversation for future reference (intermediate multi-dimensional aspect). This is done with an app or site that documents the information or allows participants to add information. One used in the weekly #satchat I co-moderate is Storify but there are many others out there for your use. This allows a second dimension to the learning because participants can now go back to review what was discussed, find resources and make contacts.
- Incorporate books, data, studies, authors and experts into the conversation (expert multi-dimensional aspect). Once you have established the conversation and have a method of documentation it’s time to bring in resources. Those resources include books, data, studies, authors and experts with connections to their online material. The social media world is unique in the fact that authors and experts are readily available and willing to interact with us. By doing so we create deeper conversations, rich resources and material that extend beyond the conversation. This third dimension is the extended learning through resource connection outside of the conversation and documentation. Once the learning gets to this level the conversation continues long beyond the date and time established, the documentation of the conversation also continues, and the connections forged open a new level of collegiality among those who participated.
Using social media for educational professional development has evolved beyond a simple conversation to incorporate running documentation of the conversation and information learned, engagement of learners with experts in forums for discussion that was not possible before and, once it gets to the expert level, a continuation of the conversation beyond the date and time of the chat.
This is a new approach to professional development for educations that connects us all and encourages learning. Don’t be a one-dimensional learner add to the conversation.