Social media in teaching and professional development
It’s justified that much of what is promoted, even on my platforms, could be considered superficial in a pedagogical sense, but much of what we do as teachers can be. Quick access to resources can free up time for more reflective practice. In terms of its pedagogical value, teaching professionals take from social-media what they can use, reflect on how it sits with their philosophical understanding, adapt it, discuss it, and essentially digest their interpretation into their practice. Teachers have ‘wider pedagogical goals’ and the plethora of resources, readings, and insight on social media can be tapped into to support specific inquiries (Melhuish, 2013). Social-media as another tool in the belt required by a profession affected by fundamental and often fast-paced change.
Does it benefit student learning?
There is also a range of class blogging platforms. Two that I've used are Class Dojo and Seesaw, which are similar in purpose, although there are tailored features for each. Currently Seesaw is a means of sharing learning with teachers and family with my face-to-face gifted class, as well as the online gifted students. Seesaw is branching out with ‘activities’ which students complete, a very ‘Lite’ version of Google Classroom but this new function doesn’t really provide the formatting tools to generate in depth responses from students.
As mentioned by many researchers, there is a risk of circulating superficial content as opposed to deeper learning. The challenge of maintaining the cognitive and intellectual rigour of the gifted program is aided through the integration of other platforms, such as Google Suite and Zoom (for video conference). The social-media aspect of our programme, although I do require responses to questions, critical feedback, and reflections via Seesaw, is more used as a tool for sharing learning beyond the individual. I am currently experiencing stigma around ‘social media’ as parents relate ‘posting’ to Facebook, and their experience of using Facebook personally (likely to be non-educational). Concerns have also been raised in regards to students reading the comments of others, in turn influencing their own responses. Melhuish (2013) describes this as an ‘echo-chamber’ effect - where assimilation is promoted. I can see this as a possibility, but a welcome one. Students with full explanations provide examples for those with less depth in responses, a positive influence rather than negative.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8482/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y