Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Right Way is Your Way

I have read some very thought-provoking posts and associated commentary over the past couple of weeks focusing on how particular educators use social media.  What I have found interesting is the powerful opinions as to how one should use social media.  I think it is great that so many people have focused opinions on what social media should, could, or should not be with a considerable emphasis on specific do's and dont's.  These specific methods and techniques work for them and it is important that all of us have some sense as to the why and how when it comes to our own social media use.  It is these opinions that always force me to reflect on my own use, objectives, and goals.

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To make things clear there is no guidebook out there that educators must abide by when it comes to using social media.   Social media is like the "Wild West" in that there are no overbearing rules, which is why I love it so much.  I can be brief if I want to.  I can comment on a post or tweet if I want to.  I can share something if and when I want to.  I can follow or unfollow whoever I want at any time.  I can recommend educators to follow if I want to.  Heck, I can post pictures of my kids if I want to.  The only firm rule I would encourage all educators to follow is to use common sense when posting to the Internet and always remember your role as an educator in the community you serve. Everything else is basically up to you and your specific preferences.

This has led me to think about how I use a myriad of social media tools with Twitter being my main go to resource.  To put it simply here is how I use social media as an educational administrator and learner:
  • Acquire, share, and curate resources
  • Discussion forum and engage in conversations of professional interest
  • Elicit feedback on ideas and initiatives I launch at my school
  • Support
  • Ask questions and receive answers
  • Track conferences
  • Digital newspaper
  • Connect with practitioners as well as experts in the field of education
  • Build, cultivate,and interact with a Personal Learning Community (PLN) to grow professionally and do what I do better
  • Promote my work and the work of others
  • Share the great things my students and teachers are doing
  • Public relations
  • Enhance communications
  • Develop a positive brand presence for the school
Is there a right or wrong way to use social media? I personally don't think so. The beauty and power of social media is that it is adaptable to fit our particular needs and goals at a given time.  As our goals and needs change our use of social media will evolve.  My point here is that any way an educator decides to use social media is the right way. What are your thoughts on this? Should there be specific rules or guidelines for educators to follow in online spaces?


  1. I couldn't agree more. Due to the nature of social media, you get out of it what you put into it. As a lurker over the past several years, I finally set some SM goals for myself and posted my first blog and I am attempting to engage "in the conversation." This isn't a one size fits all medium. A person has to be willing to put in some time and effort to see any results. There are several SM venues that I am a part of but don't use as often because they are not convinent but Twitter I scroll through daily and learn so much from the people I follow. It just works for me and I think that's how it has to be.
    Doug Alichwer

  2. Exactly!
    And thanks for the wave through.

    I am learning about how to use social media in education (I'm a qualified teacher training in librarianship). I am in awe of other professionals who have ventured into the SM landscape with students as young as 5 (Kindergarten here in Australia) in particular Ian McLean, teacher librarian at Penrith PS in Sydney. Ian has taken several of his Kindergarten classes on a journey through SM on the WWW. ‘Research columns 1, 2009: Kindergarten weaves a wiki: the learners tell their stories’ in Scan 28(1) February 2009.

    My concern was that in the environment where I work the community may not all agree to share their child(ren)'s work on a global scale. So I felt that if I were to develop a teaching/learning program I would be kind of cheating them because the SM would have to be structured in a way that it would be username/password protected. However, if you say okay, but what about contextualising their experience(s)? Then it does makes sense, and I'm not cheating them if I indeed design the best quality experience(s) possible within that organisations' context. So rather than thinking about any constraints, the process adapts and becomes again about the many possibilies.

    I certainly look forward to using SM with students in K-6.

  3. I would say as long as it remains professional there is no wrong way. The right way to use SM is up to each person and what fits their learning style and needs. THanks for a great post!

  4. Agreed! I think the main rule of thumb is the same rule we should follow with in-person interactions: Treat others as you would want to be treated. Social media tools give educators a powerful opportunity to model digital citizenship for students and families we serve, and they afford us opportunities to connect with people we never would have approached otherwise. The opportunities are endless; we just have to decide why, when, and how we want to leverage them.
    Great post, Eric!

  5. I completely concur with the professional aspect. I think its hard for teachers to understand that even in their personal interactions that they can be held professionally responsible. That line can get blurry for the "share it all" generation that is on FB, Tumblr, Flicker, etc.

    IDK about rules that need to be followed but I do think there needs to be more training/explaining in that if you can lose your job over a "tool" there should be more guidance provided on what those expectations are....make sense?

    Thanks, Eric!