Being a shy person when it comes to high social interaction, it has only been in the last 4 years that my daughters persuaded me to subscribe to Facebook, a network that has been invaluable in notifying me of major events (such as a the death of a friend) and linking me back with long lost school friends that I never thought I’d have contact with again. It has meant that I can have regular contact with family members and friends in other cities in NZ and in other countries. I like that Facebook is only as demanding as I want it. I use this media to share and learn of meaningful events in people’s lives. I am not a fan of, and quickly flip past trivial and many forwarded posts.
Although Facebook has predominantly been for personal connections, I have recently joined the NZ Teachers (Primary) Facebook group which has been valuable for following current discussions and educational thinking and applications. I have also been a member of the Mindlab Facebook group.
I have been a subscriber to LinkedIn for three years; however my use of this network is at present limited and it is a goal this year to develop this avenue more fully. I have recently joined the Teachers’ Lounge group in Linked In. It has been interesting to keep up with movements of colleagues and, through the diversity of others’ professional avenues, I have gained deeper understandings beyond those that are classroom orientated. Discussions with a colleague who is now with the Education Ministry and others who are principals have been beneficial in deeper explorations of pedagogical understandings and thinking.
In the past few years I have used a wiki space for notices, class blogging etc. I still use wikispaces for holiday blogging with my class. However, our school has a well-developed On Line Learning (OLE) system where class pages, news, photo galleries, blogs, submissions are set up and available for staff, students and parents to access anywhere, anytime. I update this a minimum of once a week, and often daily with new photos or messages to share with my class community. As OLE is a school-wide system, it has professional links where as teachers we share professional readings and other professional development information.
Another school-wide learning network I am involved in is Interlead Appraisal Connector, where we as staff have selected other members to be privy to our goals, reflection journals and professional development. In a busy school, where deep conversations amongst colleagues are confined to set situations, this is a great social medium for sharing and getting respectful and critical feedback from peers of our choice and for learning others’ journeys and pedagogical thinking.
My engagement in social media as a key form of professional development is still in its infancy. Through the duration of my Mindlab study, I have joined the Educational communities of TES, Blendspace and ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) Learning Community. These have been used to help me keep up to date with latest trends and thinking and to connect me with further professional development and valuable learning resources, including listening to their webinars. My goal with these is that within the next year I begin to contribute rather than simply receive and use information as I am at present.
I am beginning to understand the breadth of learning that can be gained from participating in social media, compared to the selected, solely face to face communications I have engaged in in the past. The former lends itself to quick incidental communication resulting in greater participation. With a busy professional career, finding time to visit to interact with others in increasingly difficult. A healthy combination of using both communication and interaction methods is my aim.