A few weeks back I had the opportunity to present to a group of Singaporean educators via video conferencing.
A decade ago we didn’t have the capabilities to do this so easily. As part of the discussion, I mentioned that social media needed to be part of a teachers’ toolkit in today’s world. Without it, we face irrelevancy because for many of our learners, it is where they live, communicate and learn. Understanding where they are and what they are doing with the tools helps us to deliver more personalised learning experiences; to deepen the learning.
One of the questions I was asked in the conference was ‘how can teachers make time to use the tools?’ Since we can’t add any more hours to the day we need to demonstrate to teachers how and where the tools fit within a contemporary understanding of learning and teaching.
I understand there will always be an element of fear associated with using new tools. People burnt books in protest of the printing press. However, we are in the business of learning and if any profession should embrace social media, I believe it is ours.
We have a growing body of research investigating the impact of social media on teacher education as more and more teachers begin using these channels to deepen their professional learning and practice. The very nature of social media reflects the way we learn, which isn’t linear but interactive, iterative and complex.
Respected educators like Will Richardson and George Couros have been writing about the relevancy of social media in classrooms for many years. These are powerful tools for connecting educators to students but importantly for connecting educators to other educators around the globe.
My fear in a rapidly changing world is not that technology is changing so rapidly, it’s what will happen to those educators who don’t see social media as relevant to learning. As Alvin Toffler famously said the “illiterate of the 21st century will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” How can we find ways of bringing colleagues not already using social media on the journey – to teach, share, demonstrate and present alternatives?
Educator and poet, Robert John Meehan wrote,”The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.”
Social media provides a powerful argument for moving beyond the limits of our own perspective.