Social media and technology can be a very scary territory for educators. For those who do not work in education, it is a hard idea to grasp, as social media has changed the playing field, grown business, and changed the dynamics of the world today. However, for a teacher or a professor, a quiet classroom filled with learning can quickly lead to the top news story within minutes, a job lost, or a world turned upside down.
Anyone can be in the spotlight, as YouTube shares videos around the world, tweets provide instant updates, and Facebook pictures can be shared via mobile phones within seconds. Educators are highly vulnerable to these social media attacks; students who may be upset over a grade, parents who share stories through blogs, and teachers who make poor choices and ruin their own careers.
As teachers, the fear of social media is not without due cause. We have all seen the stories; inappropriate relationships developing through text messages, “bad teacher” websites, and the ongoing disagreements between parents, unions, public and private schools.
However, without social media in education, we are not preparing our kids for the future. Social media and technology are not going away, and it is a fact we must all face if we want to begin any type of reform in our education system. There are many students who are being cheated out of the skills they need to be successful in the future due to political, social and selfish reasons. In various walks of education, technology is currently fighting a wall of resistance; leaving educators with a false image that is ingrained, paralyzing and leads to an unrealistic distant nightmare.
Although, if we, as teachers took the time to let go of the fear, educate ourselves and truly understand social media, we could then teach our students how to use it responsibly. We could also embark on new careers of our own, discover and meet so many others in our field, and grow both personally and professionally.
There is a safe place for educators to use social media and it is called Linkedin.
Linkedin can help educators, students and provides a safe place for educators to network. The following are 10 facts about Linked that separate it from other social media networks:
1. Linkedin is a professional business social media network.
2. Linkedin is not equivalent to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or MySpace. Members will not find personal pictures posted, only professional photos that he/she chooses to include as part of a professional profile.
3. Educators have full control over whom they connect with and the groups they join.
4. Educators will find fascinating groups on Linkedin, from preschool through higher education. The conversations and work shared is amazing, and all educators will find a place to grow and learn.
5. Nobody can post on a “wall” because this option does not exist. Posts are only part of the network in which the member belongs. If he/she does not post anything, only a quiet profile will remain in the background.
6. Educators can find career opportunities within the field of education or outside the field.
7. Linkedin will not promote the loss of a teacher’s job (meaning, there is no threat of a teacher losing his/her job due to an online class replacement).
8. Educators should have an online presence. Teachers are professionals, and according to Alison Doyle, a minimum of 60% of jobs are now found via social networking.
9. Fighting technology will leave teachers out of the game in the long run.
10. Most importantly: Educators must be an example for the students they teach. If they are not part of the biggest professional network, where most people find jobs through networking, how will our students know or understand how to use the tool? Who will model this technology for our future?
Most students know about Facebook and Twitter, however, these networks are not primarily career focused. Linkedin is career and content focused, with amazing leaders from all walks of education coming on board.
As long as educators use social media wisely, there is no reason to be afraid of it. As we represent the present, we must also model the future.
I hope to see you on Linkedin for some great conversations.