Thursday, 6 October 2016

Using social online networks in teaching and/or professional development - Activity 6

This year I have started to use Social Media again in my practise for Professional Development (PD). I have been using Google+ with the Mind Lab March Intake group and I am also part of a Google+ sub group. From being part of these groups I have felt I have learnt more PD wise than I have through my school professional development. I am also part of The Virtual Learning Network (VLN) but I do not use the site regularly as Melhuish (2013) termed it, I am a ‘lurker’ as I read people’s posts but I do not contribute.
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(Photo : Google Images (Creative Commons))
My original intentions for joining the VLN were;
  • To share ideas,
  • Ability to network with others,
  • Have an open platform to discuss,
  • Able to manage own learning and information flow.
  • Connect with other teachers that are often faced with similar challenges to myself.
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I stopped using the VLN out of frustration as I could see online the digital technology I wanted to trial in my own classroom but getting Hapara or having a better LMS wasn’t feasible. Fortunately we are now looking at these crucial pieces of technology.
The Connected Educators video and Melhuish (2013) thesis highlighted for me that although I have a formal top-down communication for what professional development I have to participate in I do have social network sites to use as an opportunity to connect with others that suits my own goals and needs.

The Kathy Cassidy video ‘Using Social Media in the Classroom’ identified how children they use other tools to show learning besides just the written word. Children in my classroom are encouraged to use Blogger and iMovie to share things they've done. This year I also created Google for Education accounts for all of my children. The parents of my room were upset the children had access to Gmail and Blogger. I realised very quickly I hadn’t communicated to the parents the purpose of what I was doing in class online. If I had communicated better I would have had better buy in. Also legally Gmail accounts are not be created for children under 13 years old. If I had visited the VLN or Google + communities I could have interacted with others and sought support on how to best approach this.

The Social Media for Kids video reminded me of the skills that children need for being more socially responsible on the web. The programme the children followed talks about understanding how to participate safely when using social media and being a safe online citizen. It is a timely reminder to revisit cyber safety in the classroom throughout the year not just when issues arise.
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The Establishing Safeguards video highlighted that using social media shouldn’t stop teachers from using social networking as part of teaching practise.
Teachers will need to;
  • Consider what is purpose,
  • Decide if it benefits teaching and learning.
  • Think about process,
  • Plan it
  • Discuss with others
  • Talk to community about why they are using the too.
The development of ultrafast broadband and more children having access to personal devices has required better strategies for schools in protecting children from websites and people online with unknown agendas. Further education of how to share images and information online has become critical.

Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from

Office of Ed Tech. (2013, Sep 18). Connected Educators. [video file]. Retrieved from

SocialMediaForKids (2014, Aug 15) Social Media For Kids® The Social Media Education Experts.[video file]. Retrieved from

Tvoparents. (2013, May 21). Using Social Media in the Classroom.[video file]. Retrieved from


  1. Hello Dion. Great post! I like your idea of deciding if the use of social media will BENEFIT teaching and learning. Sometimes I wonder why some of my colleagues are not open to try new and exciting strategies. Yesterday I took part in the PLG discussion and I cannot believe how hard is to ask some teachers to change their mindset and try to use smart technology. Instead of debating about how can we use a device to engage students in a task, we ended up complaining about health issues related to spending a long time on the screen. In my opinion the teacher must decide how long we need on the computer and how often we use the computer. Logistics versus creativity?! In conclusion I find difficult to discuss with others because they are not ready to accept a different point of view, but I am not going to give up.

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    2. Thanks Mihaela. I really like that you are going to keep pushing for change. Over the years I have tried to make do with the basic systems we had in place and behind the scenes I was teaching the children how to use technology, and develop their problem solving skills in the hope I could move their learning into the 21st Century. Talking to like minded people outside of my school has really helped especially when they may have been through the same issue previously. Maybe you could slip in some subtle notes relating to the TKI site relating to digital citizenship into pigeon holes.

  2. Dion, great post. The need to revisit and discuss online safety is a must for sure, and definitely not for just when issues arise - although it is human nature that we all become complacent sometimes.
    Management and teacher ideals can also be quite tricky sometimes - we have a number of teachers who are still quite resistant and reluctant to take on new ideas using ICT's in the classroom. One of the things that holds people back is the 'fear' of getting it wrong, the fear of the health risks, the fear of children being online and the fear of parental rebuttal. These are our challenges. The online forums of EdChatNZ and the VLN and facebook pages are great sources of teacher connectivity outside the classroom - this included also the new connections we have made via Mindlab. Keep connected to these teachers who can give support.
    I am a follower of your blog - mostly for the Mindfulness connection and interest on my part - but I like the things you share also. I do hope this continues after Mindlab ends.