Saturday, 21 November 2015

Activity 7 - Professional Online Social Networks

"Social network sites afford members freedom and autonomy to construct and develop their own understanding in collaboration with others"  (Melhuish, p.40).
  • How do/would you use social media to enhance your professional development?
I have used social media to enhance my professional development for a number of years, in particular Twitter, the Virtual Learning Network (VLN), and Facebook.  I discovered the benefits of using Twitter as an educator about 4 years ago when I first attended ULearn and since then I have been an avid user.   It is a fantastic platform to build a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and connect with other educators across the world.  It has enabled me to find some great resources, have interesting conversations with other educators around the world, share ideas and constantly inspires me in my teaching.   

  • What are some key features of social media that you have identified as beneficial for teaching and learning?

“The ‘connected educator’ is not just a reader or viewer, but an active participant in ongoing discussions and planning efforts” (Saxena, 2013).

  1. Collaboration
The ability to collaborate with other educators from all around the world, rather than just within your own local school community.  Students are able to connect with other students around the world and learn and share ideas.
  1. Sharing resources/Ideas
The amount of resources and ideas that are being shared on social networking sites is phenomenal.  Gone are the days of creating everything from scratch.  Educators are extremely generous, sharing people who are happy to share with other educators and we all benefit from that.  
  1. Building a supportive network
Teaching can be a really lonely profession.  Using social media sites and having a PLN can be a great way to connect with other educators, find out what they are doing, ask questions, get advise etc.  
  1. Keeping up to date
Keeping in touch on social media enables educators to keep up to date with new technologies, apps, on-line resources etc which is essential in today’s fast paced and ever changing environment.  

  • What are potential challenges that teachers need to be aware of when integrating social networking platforms into teaching activities?
  1. Can be distracting
Using social networking platforms can be distracting for students and the purpose for using them needs to be very clear and relevant to the learning.  If students aren’t clear on why the social media is being used then it can be seen as just a novel way of doing a lesson and not for a specific, genuine purpose.
  1. Cyberbullying
There is the risk of cyberbullying happening on social networking platforms.  Students need to be explicitly taught how to use social media appropriately and how to react if they come across cyberbullying.  

  1. Technical issues
There is always to risk of technical issues interrupting these sessions eg. internet outages, equipment failure or malfunction, lack of devices etc.

  • What social media platform do you feel best supports engagement with your professional development? Why?
The social media platform that best supports me in my professional development is Twitter.  There are many educators on Twitter and it is an easy way to connect with them.   I find it helpful that I can quickly glance through and find conversations, ideas, comments that interest me and engage with those educators.  Also because you have a limit of 140 characters your tweets need to be to the point and less waffle than a blog or Facebook post.  The ability to get quick feedback to questions etc is also advantageous.  

References
Melhuish, K.(2013) Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrived on 05 May, 2015 from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/han...
Saxena, S. (2013) Benefits of Being a Connected Educator.  
Retrieved on 15 November 2015 from

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