We are the only generation that can boast about having seen the huge transformation the world is going through at the moment. At times you feel like you’ve landed on a different planet where you are surrounded by intelligent younglings attached to handheld touch devices, they wear earphones as accessories and have a rather unique way of communicating and connecting. Their seductive worlds behind whispering touch screens are used for hangouts, coordinating virtual meetings, collaborating on passion projects with global friends, voicing their opinions or problem solving across the world. They are always online and always available in digital landscapes.
How is it even possible to effectively lead learning if we are speaking different languages, and existing in completely different worlds, and continue to alienate ourselves further and further from the future? Even though we find it a challenge to immerse ourselves into their worlds, admittedly these are exciting times to be in educational leadership.
In my professional journey, social media has been particularly beneficial for my professional practice. Global, expert or resource connections have inspired, challenged, supported and coached me over the years. My professional learning network is star studded and continues to expand as I connect with inspiring educators and educational thought leaders like Prof John Hattie, Pasi Sahelberg, Dr Ken Robinson, Prof Stephen Heppell, Ewan MacIntosh, Robert Marzano, Alec and George Couros, and home grown heroes like Stephen Harris, Tony Bryant, John Goh, Ray Boyd, Liz Smith, just to name a few. It is my virtual staffroom where I connect, communicate and collaborate with a network well beyond my reach otherwise. If Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest etc are all foreign words to you then I hope to convince you to join a few of them and see how you go.
In 2005 FaceBook brought me long lost family and friends. Few years later I discovered its potential as a platform for professional sharing, connecting people and celebrating successes. I now own a few groups and pages and have encouraged others to build their own following. I started TeachMeet WA Facebook group in 2013 and now it has ~3,300 members. I promote the idea that every school should have a FaceBook Page to make announcements, promotions and to celebrate successes, post the school’s athletic victories, spotlight student work, and promote functions like parent nights and performances. Share photographs from school events and links to local newspaper articles, videos, and resources connected to student learning. Stakeholders can access information on computers or hand held devices.
One of my personal favourites in social media is Twitter. I experienced exponential professional growth after joining Twittersphere. For the first time my professional learning was differentiated. Twitter makes it easy to post brief 140 character public, text-based messages to the Web—messages that any interested follower can see and respond to. The idea of crowdsourcing has never been so quick and easy. TeachMeet WA exisits because of Twitter. Check out @WAPLN and #TMWA and @Bhavneetsingh12. We as educational leaders, must identify how applications like Twitter can facilitate professional growth, collaboration and enhance teaching and learning programs. Digital opportunities to connect with new content and communities can accelerate learning and have so many positive benefits for student learning too.
Department of Education WA is promoting digital communIcation and collaboration and is investing in the development of Connect. It is a great starting point for the technophobes who are scared of diving in the deep end as it is a controlled environment.
Everyone including institutions needs a LinkedIn profile. Its not so much a social networking tool, but a professional networking tool. When was the last time you googled someone? Undoubtedly, you’ve been googled too. Best to leave a well thought out digital presence that acts as your CV or the face for your institution.
If you do have an online existence and you have a digital crumbs everywhere like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogposts, Flickr, Instagram, Slidshare etc, like I do then you will love About.me. It brought my entire online existence, that I wanted to share with everyone, to a single webpage profile in a simple and easy way. All I need now is the About.me link on my e-business cards or my Twitter handle.
Gazing into the crystal ball I can only say that this awesome generation of kids we educate like to work together as a team and they love challenges. Their world will be so different that they will have to be flexible life-long learners. We need to up-skill and demonstrate that we are life long-learners and we collaborate globally. For the first time we can actually do things never before possible, for and with educators across the world. We cannot rely on old roadmaps anymore because our path might be between the stars.