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If you frequently read my blog posts, you know that I am a huge proponent of using Social Media as an educator for learning and to improve our profession. I am also a Connect_an_Educator_Day_2015_002realist and believe this concept of Educational Social Media is not a mainstay for the majority of educators around the world. To encourage more educators to engage in the use of Educational Social Media we will hold the first Connect an Educator Day on May 2, 2015 at 7:30am EST on #satchat. The hope is that those who have yet to find value in Educational Social Media will do so on that day. But those of us who are connected educators must also understand the reasons why other educators have yet to connect through social medial. So, I posed this question to my graduate students as part of their blog post responsibility for class:

Why have you not become a connected educator… yet?

The key is the word “yet” as I am hopeful that a time will come that every educator connects. I asked for the students’ permission to anonymously post their responses so those of us who are connected educators will understand why our colleagues are not yet connected? The four responses I picked to share below are verbatim from their post and open a window into why they have yet to connect. I hope their responses help you to move colleagues from not connected to connected educators.

And I’d like to thank all of my graduate students for providing their honest feelings on this topic.

Student 1:

I am intrigued by the idea of utilizing social media as a tool to enhance educational practices. It appeals to me because of the ease and speed of responses to personal questions that are posted. It also adds a more personal feel to finding solutions to problems. Instead of reading an article from an unknown author on the internet, the responses come from people whom you know or whom you know are reputable. Connecting through social media also greatly increases one’s professional network of educators, which is valuable for many reasons.

Despite all of these benefits, I have not become a connected educator yet. As we discussed in class, my main excuse is time. Due to other obligations, I have not set aside the time necessary to explore this concept, set up a page, and troubleshoot through its features. I have viewed the concept as “something I’d like to do one day” as opposed to “something I must do TODAY.” As we all know, life gets busy, and the “one day” items on our To Do lists rarely seem to be accomplished in a timely fashion!

Another excuse for why I have not yet become a connected educator yet is because I already feel that I spend too much time in my day looking at computer and phone screens. Between emails and Facebook (my only social media account), it seems like I cannot go an hour without checking my phone. I try to break this habit, but in today’s world, it is challenging. I fear that, with another site to check, this habit will only grow.

I use the term “excuse” in this blog because I do realize that these are petty reasons to not try something new that could really expand my horizons. I welcome any feedback on this topic.  

Student 2:

I like to think of myself as a very private person.  I like to keep my personal life and professional life as separated as possible.  Social media is a large part of my personal life.  Currently, I have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to keep in contact with friends and acquaintances.  If I were to become a connected educator, I feel that the separation of my personal and professional life could become blurred.  Although I have my personal accounts on the highest privacy setting, I would not feel comfortable with the possibility of it being found and looked at.  Teachers are criticized now more than ever, and I would not want others to see what I have to say, regardless of what the topic is.  I also think adding on another social media account in order to become a connected educator would even more encourage my exhausting and time consuming habit of checking my phone all the time.

As we discussed in class, time is also a huge issue for me.  Setting up accounts and using social media to my professional benefit seems like another thing to do on my daily list.  There are so many other demands that come with teaching, especially now more than ever.  I feel that it is another item that I would like to give a try but do not find the time to do so.  

Student 3:

I really had no clue that educators were using social media, such as Twitter, in ways to connect with other educators.  It is hard to connect to something you had no idea about.  I use Facebook for personal purposes, and I am constantly checking my emails.  I usually use google in order to find information regarding differentiation, pedagogy, practice AP exams and practices.  My reason for not becoming a connected educator yet is because I do not have time.  I am a wife, mother, full-time teacher, and graduate student.  After our last class with Dr. Rocco, I realize that I could save lots of time and connect with various types of educators who have been where I am if I connect quickly.  I believe I will connect to Twitter in order to enhance educational practices very soon.

Student 4:

I would consider myself somewhat connected, but have not made the full leap to connecting to other educators via social media.  The reason I consider myself somewhat connected is because I attend PD opportunities and am able to ‘connect’ in person and learn from others.   I think ‘connected’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean solely connecting through social media.  However, I definitely understand its advantages, especially this day in age.  For example, after meeting people at workshops and conferences, the best way to keep that connection going is clearly through a form of social media.  Being a connected educator doesn’t have to stop at the PD workshop anymore.  It also doesn’t have to be limited to the people in a given area.  Everyone can connect online, and maybe you’d come in contact with someone you would have never met otherwise.  Social media makes this form of global connectedness possible.

Another reason I consider myself somewhat connected is because I use twitter to communicate with the families of my third graders.  It’s an additional way for me to communicate with my families, and it’s quick and simple.  I’m able to post pictures, links, etc. that I wouldn’t normally put in my weekly newsletter.  Also, I’m able to get information out right away, rather than waiting until Friday to print it in my newsletter.  Some of my parents actually follow me on twitter, while others can see the updates right on my webpage.  I follow other teachers and other organizations/companies on this account.  This account is for my families; it is not a PLN (Personal Learning Network) account, which is why I do not do anything other than post about what is going on in my classroom.   Although I’m not purposely connecting on this account, I do still feel somewhat connected.  I feel connected because I am able to get ideas for things to implement into my own classroom by seeing the things that other teachers/companies/and organizations share.  Hopefully others get ideas from the things I post/share, too.  Most importantly, though, I hope my families feel more closely connected to our classroom.

The reason I do not consider myself completely connected yet is because I have yet to use twitter or other forms of social media to develop and enhance my PLN.  I have made an account that will act as my PLN account, but have yet to use it regularly.  Although I meet people at PD, I have not completely jumped into the world of twitter chats.   I know that these chats are great, and would definitely connect me with so many more educators.  My fiancé, whom is also a teacher, participates in twitter chats each week.  Most of the time while he’s chatting, I’m working on graduate school readings and work.  So, I think the biggest reason I have not connected in this way, yet, is because of time.  I don’t feel as though I have the time to do it right now, but I hope that in the future I can make it work into my schedule.  I’ve seen firsthand the connections he’s made and the opportunities he has gained from connecting via social media.  I do think all educators would benefit from connecting in this way and having this opportunity to learn from so many others around the globe.

So the reasons are time, life, responsibilities, unaware of the resource, privacy, and personal space vs. professional space. All of these reasons are valid for why educators have not connected. Knowing the reasons for not connecting help those of us who are connected address these reasons and provide an opportunity to focus our efforts when we demonstrate the power of Educational Social Media. How will you use this information to connected a colleague?

Join us on May 2, 2015 for Connect an Educator Day and show those who have yet to connect how they can address their concerns and be a connected educator.