EdLeadership Trends: Social Media, Technology & Professional Development

EdLeaders like Eric Sheninger define digital leadership as strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverages resources (including technology) to enhance professional practice and create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture.

It is really about forming relationship with people accessing information both online and offline, anticipating the needed changes before we actually have to make them. It also defines as a call to action to create cultures of teaching and learning that students find relevant, meaningful and applicable. 

Picking insights from a video by Scott Rocco, this article will talk about prominent educational leadership trends that are changing leadership in schools.

Social Media

In general you will see many social media symbols like #hashtags or others on many things or places like restaurant, sporting goods store, or when you order something online or reading  the newspaper. What you can gradually see is social media picking pace in popularity amongst educational leaders. 

It’s natural when into education, today; you will find educators in your school, in your district, your state, across the nation and around the world that are connecting with other educators from all over the world, using social media platforms. You also see educators collaborating with each other for projects, on information sharing and lessons via social media.

Social media offers huge opportunity to connect with people anywhere, at any place and anytime and helps in getting a lot of valuable information. Many educators are very active on Twitter and also participate in Google Hangouts, Google+ communities, Facebook.

What social media has done for education is it’s given us an opportunity to learn from other people that we normally wouldn’t have contact with, and then as a result that we are taking our learning our lessons to another level. One of the primary focuses on social media is how we integrate technology.

Trend over here means positive changes or shifts resulting in better education. Eric Sheninger shares his experience how he started using social media, he says, "in March 2009 when I was reading my local newspaper on a Sunday, it was an article about Twitter, now I was not on any social media, i really felt that I am a principal I don't have time to tweet, facebook, all is garbage and i don't have time. Finally, I read the article and realised that I can use this tool to communicate better with my stakeholders.

"So, I want to be the effective communicator, so, I have tweeted couple of weeks, months just to communicate information about the school.Then what happened  that I have found myself very creepy, I worked and while I was working, I was learning and I came to know about a whole new world that was never existed. I never knew that these free tools, I never knew I can connect with these educators, I never knew I can get resources, strategies ideas at the snap of my figures" 

How the integration of technology in the classroom is changing learning?

We have technologies in our schools and it been uses in various stages and purposes. As technology progresses, we have one-to-one or bring-your-own-device and as schools have gone to that level what we’ve able to do, is been we are able to use technology in a way it hasn’t been used in the classroom before.

There are two reasons to integrate technology into the classroom:

  • The first reason is to make our teachers more effective and efficient in what they do. So, technology is being used in the classroom is because it make teachers better teachers.
  • The second reason why we integrate technology in the classroom is that it is going to improve instruction for students.

We are going to take technology and put it into the classroom and we have to ask the question why we are doing it, how it is going to help our teachers and students. If you are on social media, you will get a lot of replies for this question and you are going to see people engaging in the use of technology in the classroom that’s improving the way they teach and students learns.

There are lot of examples that technology is making the environment dynamic and making the learning outside of the classroom walls as well. 

Eric Sheninger while talking about tech integration in the classroom and changing learning says, " I have showed my staffs, I have not forced them to use tech and let you make decisions."

"When you see students reaction to environments that effectively integrate these tools, the enthusiasm, the engagement levels are higher."

How professional development among educators is changing (because of social media and technology)?

The days are sites in mass rows and listen to somebody speaking professional development is over. It an exciting time for teachers to realise that they don’t have to listen to a large lecture that has no relevance to what they are doing in their classroom.  Professional development is changing day by day now because of the infusion of technology and social media, and example of this is “unconference”. All over the world we have seen edcamp teams, edcamp leadership.

Today, people use a lot of unconference model in a lot of different professional development opportunities to ensure that the environment is dynamic. And unconference model provides the opportunity for people to come together on a day of the event and decide what the topic they are going to talk about and learn about. There is no keynote speaker; there is no set professional development structure to the day.  So, whatever, the topic is, you can put in the board and people will come together and discuss you. Unconference model provides an opportunity for people to really focus on their learning. So this is one part of the PD (professional development) change.

There are resources available online, there are chat rooms developed and the conversations about what is taught in the professional development days continues beyond the conference, for many educators this is a very exciting time.

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