Recently I read on the oz-teachers mailing list a warning for teachers about using social networking sites unprofessionally. This UK article, suggests that teachers should be cautious of what they post online and check what information is available about them. Teachers are warned that schools are scouring social networking sites and googling potential candidates for school positions.
This warning is not of concern to me. I am very wary about thinking before posting. I use Facebook in a limited way, while using Twitter for entirely professional reasons.
Unfortunately, I do know a number of teachers who need to take heed of the warning, who use social networking in a less than professional way. As a sidenote, this recent post on the Edublogger blog is a great resource for teachers wanting to use Facebook safely.
Roland Gesthuizen responded to the warning on the oz-teachers mailing list by pointing to an article in the New York Times. It concurs with the UK article that professionals do need to be careful of their online presence but offered a handy piece of advice. As Roland puts it:
If you create for yourself a LinkedIN account and keep it purely professional, sharing only what public information is already out there about you as this gets pushed up to the top of any search request. Much better to do this than trying to hide under a rock after burying all your Facebook and Twitter references.
Adding such entries can also help people who have little or no presence online, as that can be viewed with suspicion these days.
After reading this advice, I set up my LinkedIN account. This diagram summarises what LinkedIN is all about (click on the image to enlarge it).
While I am not sure how much I will get out of using LinkedIN (I’m still figuring it all out), I know it can’t hurt to strengthen my digital footprint. The fact that many inspiring educators are also on LinkedIN makes me think that it is a good idea to be involved!
If you’re on LinkedIN already, add me to your network. This is the link to my profile.
What are your tips for maintaining a positive digital footprint?
Are you on LinkedIN? How do you use it? Share your tips!
Without a doubt, Twitter is my number one form of professional development and I am always recommending it to other educators.
I first joined Twitter in early 2009 although I didn’t start using it daily until early 2010.
I find Twitter to be a one stop shop to meet like-minded educators. It is a place where I can find advice, give advice, find great links, share my work and engage in general musings about education.
For me, Twitter has never been a place where I tell people what I am eating for breakfast or catch up on celebrity goss. While I use Facebook to keep up with friends, Twitter is purely a professional medium for me.
If you’re new to Twitter, this is a terrific video that explains how Twitter can be used as a professional development tool for teachers
As a regular Twitter user I thought I would offer some advice to new Tweeters.
1. Give it a chance! So many people who join Twitter have trouble getting their head around it or forming connections with others. I was using Twitter for months before I felt like I was a real part of the Twitter community and knew what I was doing. Make yourself check in to Twitter daily for a month before you make any decisions about whether it is for you.
2. Get a desktop application.The Twitter website is not overly user-friendly and most Tweeters use a desktop application to access and organise their tweets. I recommend TweetDeck. It is free, straightforward and available for Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android etc. With TweetDeck, you can easily keep track of conversations, make lists and incorporate your other social networking sites (eg. Facebook).
3. Give and take.I have seen some people use Twitter simply to let others know about their new blog posts. While this is one great use of Twitter, why not strike up a conversation with someone or offer someone some advice? Like everything in life, you will find Twitter to be a more worthwhile and enjoyable experience if you give and take.
4. Tweet in less than 140 characters.Make your important tweets short enough so others can retweet them without having to shorten the tweet. If people have to go to too much effort to shorten your tweet (eg. after RT @username is added), they may decide not to retweet it.
5. Know where to put @username. I have seen so many people lately “retweet” a message by starting with @username. Don’t forget, with most Twitter applications, people will only see others’ replies if they are following both the sender and recipient of the update. Eg. you might think Mary has a great blog so you tweet “@mary has a great blog about teaching www.blog.com, check it out!” Only people following you and Mary will see the tweet. This really limits your audience.
6. To follow or not to follow. Some people only want to follow a certain number of people (eg. 100) so they can keep track of their tweets. If people follow me or retweet me and they are “quality Tweeters” (eg. teachers or involved in education), I will follow them back. I prefer not to follow businesses or commercial tweeters unless I’m particularly interested in them. Some people will disagree but I find this “following back” method polite. Over time, this can mean you could have 1000+ people you are following. Obviously that would be too many to keep track of but I create a list in Tweetdeck of people I’m particularly interested in. Currently there are about 150 people on this list. That may seem like a lot but some people don’t tweet all that often and I don’t feel compelled to see everyone’s tweets.
7. Let others know who you are! I do not follow back anyone who doesn’t have a bio. There are so many “spam” Tweeters out there, that I wouldn’t want to risk it! It takes minutes to make a bio that tells possible followers who you are. I much prefer people have a real photo of themself, rather than a cartoon avatar or other picture. People will feel much more of a connection with you if they can see who you are. Finally, when signing up for Twitter, it is best to use your real name (or close to) if possible. Being online and part of a PLN isn’t about hiding or pretending to be someone else. I don’t believe in having an online you and and offline you. Let us know who you are. Your digital footprint is valuable!
8. Use hashtags #.Hashtags mark key words or topics in tweets and help to categorise tweets. It is a way to get your tweet out to people who may not necessarily be following you. Hashtags can appear anywhere in the tweet. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other tweets in that category. Some hashtags you might like include #edtech #edchat #elemchat #comments4kids #vicpln. If you go to a conference you will generally find they have a hashtag so you can tweet before, during and after the event and connect with fellow delegates. Tip: don’t over hashtag your tweet – 3 is enough!
Here is a post I wrote all about Twitter hashtags if you want more information.
9. Drop in and drop out. One of the great things about Twitter is you don’t have to keep up with everything. I love Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s analogy of Twitter being like a river. The river keeps flowing but sometimes you might just walk past and have a quick look, sometimes you might hang around a dip your toes in, other times you might spend hours swimming around. You can use Twitter as your time and inclination permits!
10. Ask for advice.If you’re not sure how things work on Twitter just ask. I am @kathleen_morris and I’m always happy to help! Don’t know who to follow? Tweet me and I will give you some suggestions!
Need more convincing on the power of Twitter? Chris Betcher has written a fantastic post. Find it here.
Last week I posted about Denis Masseni’s report “Why Schools are Spooked by Social Media.”
An interesting component of this report was onsocial media monitoring.That is, monitoring the internet for mentions of a particular keyword (such as your school). This is a good way to take defensive action if negative mentions occur and to keep tab of positive mentions.
In his report, Denis described two free online applications that allow you to search the internet for any reference of your keyword.
Social Mention can scan a range of social media outlets such as blogs, comments, images, videos, audio etc.
When you search a keyword, along with your results of mentions on the internet, you get a display of sentiment. That is, what percentage of occurrences are positive and what percentage are negative. It uses a linguistics processing tool to analyse the words and phrases for positive and negative language.
Social mention also provides information on who the top users are of your keyword search. Interestingly, for my school (Leopold Primary School) that was me!
This tool is popular with businesses and also members of the wider community who want to keep track of a certain topic. Give it a try.
The second social media monitoring tool that Denis mentioned in his report was,
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. You simply type in your keyword, select what you want to search and when you want to be emailed.
Whether or not schools are using social medias themselves, it seems that it would be a good idea for schools to have these social media monitoring tools in place. They are a good way to nip any problems that occur in the bud and monitor what your students are doing in cyberspace.
Do you use social monitoring?
How do you think social monitoring should be used?
While I braced myself for a flood of ill informed callers harping on the negatives of Facebook and the like I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
Denis Masseni, a Monash university lecturer and a director of Sponsor-Ed was the guest on the topic. Denis has written a report called “Why Schools are spooked by social media”, which presents findings from a survey of 140 principals on the subject of social media.
Throughout the radio segment, Denis addressed many issues related to social media in schools and callers also provided interesting insights. The most compelling statement for me was when a caller said something like “hospitals and banks can no longer operate without computers but classrooms can.” This is so sad but true and really says it all to me about the change that is needed in schools.
I enjoyed the conversation that ensued and subsequently sought out Denis’s report.
This 34 page paper is well worth reading. It is a powerful document that illustrates how the commercial sector uses social media in many ways which could be imitated by schools. It also addresses the “blockers” that stop schools from utilising social media.
Denis defines the term social media as accessing, sharing, commenting and collaborating online, and for the sake of the paper, as blogging, Twitter and email newsletters.
In summary, the premise of the report is “With over 9 million people in Australia accessing social media (46% of the population), including 43% of small businesses and over 70% of not for profits, why are schools under-represented in their use of this new communications device in connecting with their parent community?”
The following statement from the report rang very true with me, (evident by the fact that a large amount of parents at my recent parent-teacher interviews commented how much they enjoy our class blog and regular class e-newsletters).
“Simply delivering information in more contemporary mechanisms and allowing for two-way communications will lift parental involvement and promote engagement. Parents don’t connect in the school yard in the numbers they once did – the pace and pressure of modern life has seen to that”
Denis sums up the future of social media with this statement:
“The way forward is to find schools that are enthusiastic about extending social media to parents and support their activities technologically, strategically, tactically and philosophically. These schools will provide the benchmarking for those waiting for someone to go first. We need the early adopters.”