A blog by Joann Ericson
According to Jeffrey Carpenter, author of "Teachers at the Wheel: New Modes of Professional Learning Put Educators in the Driver's Seat", an article which appeared in the May 2016 issue of Educational Leadership, social media presents a potent opportunity for teachers to connect with new colleagues in other locations and share classroom-tested resources.
Carpenter identifies Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Edmodo, and Vox as powerful tools to connect with professional colleagues, exchange ideas, and share promising practices. He also highlights Edcamps, free, one-day events, in which participants define breakout session topics the morning of the event.
Carpenter further elaborates on the benefits of these forms of self-directed professional learning. Social media provides personalized and on-demand professional learning. Additionally, social media also presents opportunities to network with colleagues with similar interests from around the country and globally.
In addition to the benefits, he also cites challenges. New technologies require embracing a new vocabulary. Also, due to its universal access, there is no assurance that what is shared is necessarily quality; teachers must be cautious as consumers. Moreover, district leaders may be reluctant to endorse this type of self-directed professional learning because it may not be in alignment with district goals and outcomes.
Carpenter states that research on social media and Edcamps "suggests potential benefits and indicates teachers' interest in collaborative and participatory professional development." He concludes that the more teachers can participate in directing their own professional learning, the more likely they will be "able to shape the development of thief own profession".