“Details on FB”: Why Teachers and Teacher Educators Should be Facebook (and Social Media) Savvy

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“The most dangerous experiment we can conduct with our children is to keep schooling the same at a time when every other aspect of our society is dramatically changing.” – Chris Dede

“Details on FB”. The picture that frames this blog post was taken last night (9/22/15) of the junior high across the street from where I live in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth. I notice the marquis as we walk dogs each evening and see the message as one indicator of what’s happening in K-12 schools. “Details on FB” implies the reader of the marquis knows that a) the school and/or district has a digital presence on social media, specifically Facebook and b) more information and communications can be found there. As all Facebook users know, possible dialogue and conversation can take place online. This represents very different two-way communication possibilities beyond one-way transmission of information that was sent home when I taught school in 1997-2004. It also represents convenience and mobile access to information.

Misconception: “Social media is for my/other’s personal life only”.  This type of thinking about social media by educators compartmentalizes the use of social media and minimizes the power of social media to connect educators, families, and students in powerful ways. Facebook once was a largely personal forum, however, it is now used broadly not just by billions of users, but by schools, districts, universities, educational non-profits, and others to network and provide digital communication forums. Gone are the days of paper memos distributed to parents (although not entirely, I’m sure). Mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous and social media, in various formats, has become a way to reach out to families, parents, and the community. Educators and administrators have been using these tools for years. To ignore these trends is to fall far behind.

What does this mean for teachers and teacher educators? Why should we care? Why is this something we really can’t ignore? Ethically, to prepare teachers for a world that includes teaching and communicating professionally via social media, we (as teachers and teacher educators) need to be savvy with social media in general. We need to consider ways it can be used to post professional information broadly (and in multiple languages, if needed) to families, students, and the community. We need to know the various platforms and how they can best be used in savvy ways.

As a teacher educator, I need to know the ways that schools are using social media at various levels: a) at the district level to share policy and larger ideas about the district, b) at the school level and c) at the classroom level. For instance, many districts are using EdModo for teaching and learning. A colleague and I are examining the ways social media tool can facilitate “just-in-time” learning for students. We need to know social media policies that are typically in place at a variety of school districts. We have a strong ethical duty to stay on top of trends of the ways PK-12 districts are using social media to communicate and teach at these three levels (district, school, classroom).

Ways to integrate social media into curriculum should be explored and encouraged. Model examples can be found here for PK-12 curriculum integration (Edutopia resources). I will post more resources in future blog posts or feel free to share ideas in comments!

On a related note, I am looking forward to our new teacher induction project Saturday webinar on “Teaching with EdModo K-12”. Click here for more information on the October 10 webinar! 🙂

Comments are welcome. -Peggy

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