Social Media and Professional Learning Networks

Social Media and Professional Learning Networks

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4622-2.ch009
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This chapter examines social media as a form of professional development. It sheds light on social media platforms that support collaboration and reflection among educators. The International Society for Teachers in Education (ISTE) continues to stress the importance of teachers possessing skills and behaviors of digital age professionals. This is necessary as educators become co-learners with their students and colleagues around the world. Social networks, such as Twitter and Google+ communities, provide opportunities to move up the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, or offer a method of seeing how computer technology might impact teaching and learning, as well as professional learning for teachers.
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If learning and knowing are to be based on cognitive practices of humans, then they have to be located in authentic activity.

-Author Wilson

Social media has immersed itself into our daily lives. Whether it be for work or play, we are socially connected, with about 72% of adults in 2003 on a least one social network (Pick, 2013). Today 72% of American use social media platforms. Young adults were the earliest social media users and continue to utilize social media outlets, but there is an increase of older adult usage in recent years (Pew Research Center, 2019). Facebook remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the U.S. with about 69% using the platform. 68% of adults ages 50-64, use Facebook in some format. Instagram is especially popular among 18- to- 24 -year-olds with about 62% using this tool. The majority of Instagram users visit the site daily and some several times a day, with 76% of users ages 18-29 (Pew Research Center, 2019). Around half of college graduates and those that live in high-income households use LinkedIn as a search tool (Pew Research Center, 2019).

Perhaps it provides an adult playground where we are able to share our ideas and engage socially with individuals that share similar beliefs. Whatever the reason for social media usage, the use of tools to connect users and ideas around the world has revolutionized the way people communicate. Furthermore, it has transformed the way teachers and other educators engage in professional learning (Mangan, 2012). Teachers are able to reflect and improve on their practices as a result of their involvement in social media platforms. Lynmarie Hilt (2015), calls these educators “connected educators” because they use social media to openly share their learning on platforms such as bogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Connected educators, according to Hilt (2015) make it their “mission to collaborate with other passionate educators to learn, create, read, write, and share in the name of professional learning (p. 289).


Adult Learning Theory

Several learning theories help to explain why teachers value collaboration and learning among peers. They also help us understand why some teachers feel comfortable utilizing social media for professional learning. Learners, when connected to a learning community, grow as professionals. They take initiative and make learning a priority in order to benefit their students and school.

The social constructivist view posits that knowledge is constructed when “individuals engage socially in talk and activity about shared problems or tasks. Making meaning is thus a dialogic process involving persons-in-conversation, and learning is seen as a process by which individuals are introduced to a culture by more skilled members (Merriam et. al., 2007, p. 291-292).” Vygotsky (1978) developed the beginning foundations for this approach to social learning, as he proposed that learning is socially mediated through interaction with others. All forms of constructivism understand learning as an active process. Hence, learning occurs through dialogue and collaborative learning. As learners engage with each other, they explore the views of others, and new interpretations are discovered through interaction with one another.

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