There has been so much talk lately about teachers using social media. Is it a good idea; is it a bad idea; should or should you not friend students on Facebook; should I blog or not? These are legitimate questions, but you have to ask yourself, “Is social media going away?” The answer to that is NO. It’s only getting more prominent in our day and age.
People in education should either blog, Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace to share what you are doing in class, your thoughts and theories of education, or to teach others about websites, web 2.0 tools, or to advertise webinars and conferences. You can use Linkedin when looking for employment or you use social bookmarking like Delicious. All of these sites have so much to add to education.
Teachers in general, who are on the frontlines of education, should share their frustrations, successes, challenges and A-ha moments with the world. There are people out there just like you and me who want to hear your stories. The links above, are great blogs about friending students on Facebook, and why teachers should blog. The uses for these social media networks in the classroom are limitless. Just be creative.
How ever you might feel about education and social media, you have to understand that your students are engaged on these websites when they are at home. So why not be a mentor to these students online? You are a mentor for these students in the classroom. You support them when they are on the football, soccer, or baseball field. Some may say they don’t want students to know what they are like outside of the classroom. I can understand that, but just because you are not in a classroom doesn’t mean you are not an educator. Even though we didn’t take an oath like a doctor, if you have a love of education its hard to turn off the teacher inside (just ask my children at home!).
I want to challenge you that if you aren’t into social media jump in. Start with twitter, and follow some people who are teachers. You can find me on twitter with the username @jeff_shoemaker. Go on to find some education chats such as #gtchat, #edchat, #edtech, or #elemchat. They have certain times and days they meet to chat. You will be surprised at who is on twitter, and what you can learn and contribute to the chats. You will find so many resources out there to contribute to your class and to your own tool set as a teacher. You will find ideas for lessons, better ways to teach topics, and gain many friends that you can discuss with who are just like you. They want to be the best teacher they can.
Many of us are on Facebook to talk with friends and family. Add some education groups to your page. There are several education associations and centers on Facebook. Many great leaders in education are on Facebook. Add them as friends.
Social media has a role in education. How you decide to use that role is up to you. Social media keeps us up-to-date with new websites, web tools, and lessons learned in the classroom. So much is being posted that it is hard to keep up with. How much you decide to use social media is what you will get out of it. So go ahead and jump in!