11. Social Media
The advent of social media, which connects educators across their own states and around the world, has helped the education transformation movement gain momentum. From Facebook to Ning, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Symbaloo, Second Life and so on, educators are constantly faced with a stream of new platforms and the necessity to experiment with the value, versus the novelty, of participation.
While Twitter is most often used for short updates of less than 140 characters, it is also vibrantly used to sustain conversations within groups, including local, national and global communities of educators. On Twitter, participants use “hashtags,” which are subject areas represented by abbreviations or words preceded by the # symbol.
For example, the educators community in Iowa uses #IowaCore for their discussions related to that subject. The group might have a real-time discussion, say, from 5-7 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, with participants hash-tagging their contributions so the thread appears in one column for people who follow that particular hashtag.
Since a single brief tweet can contain a link to a richly textured site, essay, wiki or other content that lends far more depth to a subject, statement or inquiry, the limiting factor of 140 characters can become an asset, streamlining the dialogue in this format to essentials.
Several Twitter hashtags are devoted to the vigorous exploration of the larger education ecosystem.
EcoSys explores the drivers of social change in complex ecosystems. This site, often referenced with the #ecosys tag, is a collaborative wiki looking at new ways to understand the transformation of education.
Check to see if your school, district, region or state educators are using hashtags to communicate. If not, consider starting one and getting the word out. Does your educators community keep a list of all the Twitter users in your group so you know who to follow? Feel free to comment below if you belong to a community of educators and have a Twitter hashtag for the group. The hashtag for this project is #CreateFuture.