Social Media for Teachers

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Many teachers and educators that I talk to steer clear of social media. Yet in a world where social media is an increasingly important part of young people’s lives, it is difficult for educators to stay on the outside with social media. Below are some of the top social media platforms and how and when you could use them.

Facebook Image

Facebook is the biggest social media platform and it is the one teachers live in dread of because it is easy for students to find you and even see what you get up to in your free time. What is more, if you end up with as facebook friends with managers and colleagues they will also learn more about your personal life than you would normally admit to.

How to use facebook: This social media tool is for your personal life. Use privacy settings in facebook to make sure only friends can see what you post and be careful who you friend. The scariest part is if someone else tags you in one of their photos others are likely to see that photo. Once again change your privacy settings to stop this.

Facebook is useful for professional reasons in that many organisations relevant to teachers have facebook pages. Quick plug, you can connect to us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pathwaystoresilience. There are also facebook groups on a range of topics.

Read more about facebook for teachers on the tech blog mashable. http://mashable.com/2012/10/29/facebook-for-teachers/

LinkedIn

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Recently I read that in Australia more people have LinkedIn profiles than Facebook profiles. LinkedIn contains your professional profile and is a great way to build professional connections with other people in your field. LinkedIn also has groups, which are basically discussion forums, making LinkedIn the premium way to learn from and share information with other professionals.

How to use LinkedIn: Create a professional profile. Very often if you are going for a job interview or attending a meeting, people will try and find you on LinkedIn. You can also find connections with people who share your world view, work in your area or are just professionally interesting.

Because LinkedIn is a professional site there is far less bad behaviour. You can also feel comfortable about linking to your students. Remember it is a great way to see how former students are progressing in their career.

Twitter Image

Unlike other social media, Twitter has a huge focus on the now. Twitter breaks stories about planes making emergency landings in rivers, riots in the Middle East and what famous people have had for lunch. Because of its short (140 character) limit on posts and immediate nature it can either reward or frustrate its users.

How to use Twitter: Twitter is used in a variety of interesting and beguiling ways. Obviously it is useful for news. So you can link it to blogs, Facebook and other services to keep users posted on the fly. At the other extreme hash tags “#” can be used to create live discussions in larger classes or lectures. Twitter is perhaps the best social media platform for creating discussions with students. See this interesting article for twitter in the classroom. http://www.teachhub.com/50-ways-use-twitter-classroom

Blogs

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I am not sure everyone would agree with me that blogs are social media, as they predate most of what we call social media. Blogs are news sites where stories are published in the order they are posted. In other words a Diary. In many ways Facebook is also a type of blogging platform where you share your information with friends, however other popular blogging platforms include www.wordpress.com and www.blogger.com.

How to use blogs: Blogging is fraught with dangers. People have been fired or disciplined for posting the wrong things about work, life and students on their blog, including saying derogatory things about their students. Blog on controversial or sensitive topics at your own peril, however teachers can also blog on all sorts of education related topics. If you are a history teacher why not do a “This day in history blog” or if you are teaching PE you could blog about your own exercise goals and activities. The topics are endless and can become a handy reference of information.

YouTube

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YouTube has quickly become the place to post your videos. Most companies that create videos do not host them themselves but place them on YouTube.

How to use YouTube:  There are now many incredible free educational videos on YouTube on every imaginable topic. The videos can be used to supplement your teacher directed training, used for self-directed learning or you can assign videos to students as a remedial measure. The biggest frustration of YouTube is the tendency for many educational institutions to block YouTube, however you can download videos using free YouTube down load tools such as Free YouTube Downloader (http://download.cnet.com/Free-YouTube-Downloader/3000-2071_4-75219434.html)

Don’t forget that you can also create and post your own videos. Science experiment videos are popular as are craft, cooking and other practical topics. Remember you can earn advertising revenue for your postings and many people, including schools students, have earnt a decent income from posting educational videos. Just make sure you separate out your home video making from your work.

Here is a video at youtube on how teachers can use youtube. http://www.youtube.com/user/teachers

 Pinterest

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I will put this down as an honourable mention in my list of social media for teachers. Mostly because I have to confess I haven’t really used Pinterest. The visual style of Pinterest lets you create boards of photos, text and links. Many people use them for shopping, but Pinterest can also be used to create educational boards that students can interact with.

Read more about Pinterest for teachers on a Pinterest Board. http://pinterest.com/erinklein/pinterest-for-teachers/

 In Summary

Social media is now part of life. It is used for news, learning, social interaction and finding work. Using social media is not just the new trendy thing that will blow over quickly, rather it is something that can be used to enhance learning, engage with students who have a strong focus on social media and also prepare students for life.

For the cynics reading this, yes social media is having an adverse affect on student’s language and face-to-face social skills. As a result often educators find they have put an extra emphasis on those skills to compensate. Yet we can’t ignore that already many people are now using social media as their primary way to communicate and teachers shouldn’t be scared to get into the conversation.

How Pathways to Resilience Uses Social Media

 We use a number of different social media tools, currently the main ones are.

 

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