Why Teachers Need Training On Social Media

Adam Heckler is a twenty-something Cincinnati, Ohio local working in the education technology sector. Most of his time is spent at VARtek Services where he writes for the blog, manages social media, and advises K12 s

Let’s face it, the world of online social media is getting more and more complex every day. Heck, I’m only 25 years old and I’ve never heard of some of the websites and Internet trends that my younger cousins mention to me.

Since digital life is moving faster than ever, it is a tough job for teachers (who are already busy with mountains of work) to keep up with the latest developments in social media. That’s why schools should provide not just guidelines for educators to abide by online, but training as well.

This suggestion is mainly the result of two trends that are pretty easy to observe:

 

1. Specific Technologies Change Quickly

As I said earlier, technology changes at a rapid pace. And if you are at all familiar with how most K12 districts operate, you know they’re usually slower than snails when it comes to changing many aspects of their day-to-day operations.

Snail's Pace

Thus, many schools simply aren’t agile enough to respond quickly to the ever-changing world of technology. This is why issuing rules about social media use using a document like an Acceptable Use Policy will never be adequate all by itself.

Rather, general guidelines are what’s needed. Teachers should be trusted to behave toward their students online just as they would behave toward their students if they happened to run into them at a local baseball game.

 

2. Social Media Isn’t Going Anywhere

While the specific technology that runs our digital lives may change over time, social media itself isn’t going anywhere, at least anytime soon. Some people say that it’s just a temporary fad that will seem old-fashioned in a few years, but I would disagree.

For example, as of May 2012, Facebook has over 900 million users. That almost one out of every 7 people on the planet. So, for now I think it’s safe to assume that people will still be using Facebook in the years to come.

Election night crowd, Wellington, 1931

Compounding that trend is the fact that younger people are more likely to be on Facebook than any other age group. Why? Well, they’re growing up in a world where Facebook is normal; they don’t remember a world without it. Given that, it only makes sense that teachers meet them halfway by using a communication tool that their kids are already using on a daily basis.

 

Where to Get Social Media Training

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we here at Fractus Learning are creating some awesome social media training courses. Sign up here if you’re interested! :-)

Common Sense Media, a group dedicated to educating students and their families on digital media, offers some awesome resources on their professional development page as well. I definitely recommend checking out the other sections of their site too.

Finally, ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) also has several resources. A quick search of their site turned up this course on digital citizenship, for example.

(Speaking of ISTE, I am currently at their conference in sunny San Diego, learning all I can about the latest in education technology, so I should have some awesome articles in the weeks ahead!)

Let us know in the comments if you’ve thought of getting some training on social media!

 

Image courtesy of Flickr users randysonofrobert and the National Library NZ