That connection extends to the global community, said Debi Ash, who teaches online classes for ITT Technical Institute and uses Facebook to network with other educators. For her dissertation on how to instruct at-risk students and high school dropouts, she’s working with a mentor in Australia, Ash said.
“If we don’t get out there and network via the tools that are given us, we’re going to fall behind.”
Social Networking Resources
If you're just starting out in social networking, you can learn a lot from the educators who have gone before you. You'll find tips, tools and techniques in this space as well as anecdotal experiences to give you a head start in your online quest for knowledge.
Flom advises that other educators use the application TweetDeck to easily keep track of the people and topics they're following. To find people to follow, search for "followfriday education" or terms related to your interests.
Twitter is the most valuable tool that Chad Ratliff uses, but at first, he didn't know if it would be worth his while.
“You hear the stories of just people simply posting what they had for breakfast and what they’re doing for dinner, so you’re not quite sure,” Ratliff said. “That was me, definitely, but suddenly you start to follow some interesting folks that are putting out information that you personally find appealing, and then it sort of grows from there.”
He tells educators to be themselves no matter what and build relationships through social networking.
You don't have to read every tweet, Alice Mercer said. Check your account every now and then, look for the @ replies (messages directed to you over the Twitter stream) and read every tweet of educators you really like. She finds that it's a good place to throw questions out to others.
- The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter
- 10 Things Teachers Should Know to Get Started with Twitter
- 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the College Classroom
The first social networking tool that Scott McLeod recommends to educators is an RSS reader such as Google Reader. He says that once they set it up, they should ask someone to help them find a handful of Web sites to subscribe to, including a mix of professional and personal ones.