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No one will deny that the use of technology in education exploded over the last few years. The term technology is broad and when you look at how it is being used in and out of classrooms you see variations of the term. One of those variations is the use of social media by educators to communicate, collaborate and learn. It is a slow growing group that has yet to be fully embraced in the educational world.

During this school year I have been tasked with a goal to explore, expose, encourage, engage and collaborate with staff in my school district through social media. For many, not just where I work, this concept is either a foreign one, misunderstood, or not seen as having educational value. This is not the fault of the educators who think this way. It is a byproduct of how social media is used outside of the educational realm.

How educators are using social media is new and innovative (I’m sure some will argue the opposite). At what point in our professional careers have we been able to identify another educator from another part of our country or the world who has a similar interest and engage in a real-time face to face conversation? When was the last time educators from different corners of the country collaborated on a presentation? When could documents and presentations be worked on simultaneously by educators in different time zones? We can not answer these questions without using social media.

So as I begin my goal I will use this blog forum to bring you along on the “social media ride”. Here I will discuss the steps taken, experiences, successes and failures. This will all be done in an effort to expose more educators to the benefits of social media and help others who are attempting a similar goal. All of this will be done in phases. Today’s blog is phase 1.

Phase 1 is exposure

How can we expect others to pick up and use a concept without exposing them to examples and demonstrating the benefits? Exposure started during the superintendent’s opening remarks of our school year to the entire staff. The remarks were simulcast to 9 schools and the Board of Education building using UStream. During the remarks the superintendent used video chat through Google to reach out to each school and took 4 polls of the staff using Poll Everywhere. These ideas were implemented by the superintendent as a way to demonstrate the use of new technology. On the other end of this was Twitter. During the remarks I back channeled the event with a common hash tag and had 13 staff join the conversation. This may seems miniscule to some but it was huge to me as a beginning.

This past week a district committee identified the observation model we will use going forward. The decision has major implications and the committee agreed on transparency throughout the process. In an effort to continue this transparency we sent out an online flyer announcing the committee’s next meeting and how staff could follow the proceedings using Smore. The presentations and decision of the committee were again back channeled using Twitter. We had 12 participants and an unknown number of lurkers as the meeting was being held during the school day. Our superintendent joined in from a conference in Arizona.

Phase 1 will continue for the next month or so with additional exposure to programs, apps and websites staff can use to engage in Social Media. As a point of clarity all sites included in this blog and future blogs are for example purposes. You can find versions of these services by different developers that meet your needs. Hopefully they spark interest.

I encourage you to leave a comment on the blog about your experiences so others can learn from all of our efforts.

Phase 2 coming soon!