In many schools and learning organizations, professional development is still an “event.” It’s something that happens a few times a year, imparting isolated chunks of information and strategy to educators. This type of learning is often not pervasive enough to inform everyday practice.
Social media has the ability to change that. And teachers are starting to take this to heart.
Social media allows educators to have continuous conversations about what they’re learning and trying in their classrooms. This integrated approach to growth and development is found to be incredibly effective by educators.
That’s because social media connects educators to two fundamental things at all times: content and each other.
Facebook groups and Twitter chats have sprung up like wildfire among educators in the last few years. Educators are using these spaces to build off of more traditional face-to-face professional development events. Just search #edchat on Twitter to see the innumerable discussion, debates and shares from educators all over the world.
The growth of anytime, anywhere learning for educators has the ability to transform the profession. The low barrier to entry and tremendous potential for collaboration via social media is going to change the ways that teachers learn and improve their practice.
For me, using social media has connected me to countless ideas, perspectives and resources. It’s a conversation that I can join whenever the need or desire arises. This ongoing exchange has changed the way I design learning for both children and adults. For me, learning happens all the time — and the “events” of traditional professional development are a distant memory.
Kristen Swanson (@kristenswanson) is a learner, leader and teacher. She is the senior educational technology leader for BrightBytes and a founder of the Edcamp movement. Swanson is also author of “Professional Learning in the Digital Age,” a Google Certified Teacher, a Twitter teacher and an Edublog Award nominee.