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Social media in learning and teaching and professional development.

Why do I use Social Media?

The above diagram summaries the key features that benefit myself and my students as I become more connected with other professionals from across disciplines, when accessing and using social networks. Blogging was the first time I had to explain to a wide audience of professionals how I approached solving pedagogical problems and found the blog to be a great place to reflect and organise my thoughts. I only use twitter for professional purposes and this is where I found a plethora of resources tried and tested by other educators that I could use in my classroom to engage the students and increase student achievement. Not only that, twitter introduced me to different pedagogical theories such as TPACK that gave me a framework that identified the knowledge I needed to teach effectively with technology.
The Virtual Learning Network, an interactive resource provided by the Ministry of Education for all New Zealand educators, groups have enabled me to ask questions, comment and discuss ways to lead change in e-learning and develop a vision, policies and strategies to integrate ICT into learning for my school. For example exploring students bringing their own device to support learning.

The Challenges of using social media.

Along with using social media with students comes the social responsibility of ensuring the digital safety of the disabled students I work with. Not only do I teach them to be digitally responsible citizens but I actively encourage other strategies such as their parents being friends with them on Facebook. For some of the students the only contact they have with friends when they leave school is on Facebook. Although Youtube has given me the opportunity to expand my students' worlds from local to global and get them closer to their heroes it is an on-going task to educate them about using such tools in a safe way and why.

Opening My Classroom to the Parents / Whanau

Having a class blog meant that the students were able to share the work they do in class with their families. For me, the idea of parents having the ability to see what my students are doing and communicate about it, was a bit scary at first but now, it's the goal. The students love the feedback and it encourages them to write without my direction. This becomes a digital record of their time at school and will always be there for them to access after they leave school and continue sharing with family and friends.

Why do I continue to blog and tweet?

Initially, it was about doing it because it was expected part of being a member of an online community. Now, it's about learning. It's about my journey and the feedback. Blogging, for me, has become more than working through a thought process. It has opened my ideas to a responsive audience. Sometimes a tweet or a post allows my learning network to point me in a direction I haven't thought of. It could be a thought or a resource that I would have never learned about if people didn't read my posts and tweets and share their thoughts. 

Duckworth, S. (2015). Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/15664662@N02/with/16310978942/

TPACK.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.matt-koehler.com/tpack/

VLN. (n.d.). Retrieved from :http://www.vln.school.nz/

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