The opportunity to meet and collaborate among educators over the last century was relegated to state and national conventions. Educators from around the country and the world attended these events to share ideas, make presentations and listen to best practices. At best an educator could attend one of these events annually. Unfortunately, most educators only attend conferences every other or every few years. The growth of social media and its use by educators tears down that wall and opens up opportunities for educators to collaborate without limits.
Although the use of social media by educators is still in its infancy, it has already provided many unique opportunities for educators to meet and collaborate. As a result here are three solid reasons why every educator needs to engage in educational social media:
- Development of a diverse Professional Learning Network (PLN): We learn best and become better educators by collaborating with others in our field. A PLN includes all those educators you wish to follow, read about or engage in chats. The reasons why you pick those in your PLN vary but it can be because you find their credentials or material they share of value. The PLN’s that we develop allow us access to these professionals and the ability to communicate with them at any time.
- Collaboration and sharing occur 24/7: What could be better than being able to access, collaborate with and share among educators at any time? Social media is like a 24 hour a day convenience store where someone is constantly there and you can always find what you are looking for at a moment’s notice. This is the exact opposite of what we have been trained to accept with the conference model.
- Learning is unrestricted: The pace and amount of learning you wish to engage in is of your choice. Social media allows the user to decide how much, when, where and for what purpose. This is one of the most freeing aspects of engaging in this type of learning for an educator. If we believe in differentiated learning for students then we must believe in differentiated learning opportunities for educators. Social media provides one aspect of this differentiation.
The growing use of social media for educators will create unique learning opportunities for every educator. It will allow collaboration and sharing of information and ideas outside the traditional conference structure. But most importantly it will provide these opportunities for all educators at any time on any subject. It is the responsibility of those of us who have found value in social media to encourage other educators to participate. Beyond encouragement we must demonstrate to others the value we have experienced. Let’s tear down those walls and support the evolution of education and our profession development being brought about by social media.