Social Media, Professional Development, & Boxes

There is lots of talk about using Twitter and other forms of social media for Professional Development…I do it myself.  My friend Steven Anderson, who tweets at @web20classroom, blogged recently about connectedness while at a national conference:

So it bothers me when I hear people, powerful people, people in positions that could really drive change, say educators need to be connected, but in the same breath discount the validity of Twitter or other social networking tools. Their idea of connectedness is the traditional. Let’s travel 1000’s of miles to have a conversation over dinner about assessment or the Common Core. I can have the same conversations with many more people any time of day. That isn’t to say that the face-to-face time isn’t valuable. On the contrary, I value greatly that time I get to spend with others. But if we are truly going to drive change and make waves as educational leaders we have to plug in and get connected. We have to reach out and read blogs, send tweets, participate in forums.

Professional development, and personal/professional learning and growth is so different now as apposed to the traditional. I can learn about anything, anywhere, from any number of experts. Why, as a lover of learning, would I not want to be in on that!

The line that struck me in the above quote was the sentence “I can have the same conversations with many more people any time of day.” This rings so true to me…the ability to step out of my district, my state, and my region, and to hear what educators across the country are thinking, saying, and doing is what makes social media like Twitter and blogs so valuable to me.

But here’s my problem: occasionally I have to return to that box.

Very few of us have the magic wand we need to make the changes we feel are important in our organization, including the position of power and influence needed to make this change happen, especially quickly.

So here’s my dilemma that I’m going to struggle with this year: how can I get more teachers in my district to use social media for professional development?

Actually, my question is a bit different:  How can I award professional development credit for social media activity?  Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, it comes down to this for some teachers: How do I get credit for this?

Yes, teachers want to improve their instruction for their students. Yes, teachers want their students to achieve more. But, teachers also have requirements they have to fulfill, including certificate renewal.

One of my roles this year in my district will be coordinating professional development.  This will give me the chance to introduce social media to our 400+ teachers and show they how they can get some amazing PD at their own pace, from some amazing people who “get it.”  But I know they’re going to ask “How many points can I get for this?” And I get that.

So how do I address that?  Anyone give PD credit for social media participation?  How do you do it? Let me know in the comments!

One thought on “Social Media, Professional Development, & Boxes”

  1. Hi Tim!

    Our district is starting a weekly Twitter chat, and I, too, am looking for a way to give credit for participation. Twitter discussions and other social media interactions can be such a valuable part of professional learning, but figuring out how to quantify desired behaviors in a way so that they can be approved for credit isn’t easy. And though I believe that offering PD credit may get some folks involved who would not participate otherwise, I’m also concerned that having some sort of checklist or rubric for participation might affect the quality of the conversations.

    My thoughts aren’t much help, I’m afraid, but I’d love to know what you end up finding or creating. I’ll share, too, once I have something that seems workable.


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