In the last eighteen months I have gone from the humdrum world of professional development being provided in stale and un-engaging environments to an interactive, global world of professional educators focused on professional development for themselves and their colleagues. That environment is a result of the explosion of social media in the educational world.
My social media experiences have helped me grow in my understand of and engagement in professional development through social media. On a recent Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at EdCampbmore (Baltimore, Maryland). The panel included participants in EdCampMSP (Minneapolis, St. Paul) and me in New Jersey. The panel met using Google+ and was streamed live using UStream. The live feed was also viewable on TeacherCast.net. Simply put, it was an awesome example of using social media for positive, productive and interactive professional development.
The experience left me energized and feeling like educators are making great strides in their use of social media for the betterment of our profession. After reflecting on the experience I identified three reasons why educators should be excited about these types of professional development opportunities:
1. Global Professional Development – Professional development in the era of social media is global and without walls. The opportunity to make contact with and engage other educators in the pursuit of information or collaborate is simple, fast and readily available. Gone are the days of saying, “If only I knew someone who did a lesson on (insert lesson topic)” or “How do I deal with (insert awkward situation)”. Suggestions from educators from around the world are only seconds away for those who engage in the use of social media.
2. Positivism - Professional development using social media for educators is inherently positive. The vast majority of educators participating are looking to help others and provide information. Negative comments and negativity in general are not accepted. Educators engaging in social media are willing to help or lead you in the right direction and at the same time be positive. It’s a great learning and sharing environment.
3. We Are Here To Learn – Educators on social media are educators. There is little interest in title or status. Although we will list them in our bio’s or introduce ourselves during a chat with a title, they matter very little. The reason why they are irrelevant is simply because we are there to learn, help, assist, give and get guidance, provide resources, and generally move education forward. Everyone has something to add and everyone has something to learn in the educational world on social media.
A positive, global learning environment that finds value in all of its participants should excite educators and encourage them to get involved. This is what social media does for educators around the world. Help a colleague find that excitement. Show them the value of using social media.