Sunday, March 6, 2011

Engaging More Administrators in Using Social Media

How do we engage administrators more in using social media and in developing a Professional Learning Network? That was the question at the center of my presentation at the annual North Carolina Technology in Education Society’s (NCTIES) 2011 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. As I point out in my presentation, which is included below, the media horror stories often give administrators from the school level to the superintendent level pause when it comes to using social media tools, and there have been no shortage of those stories:

And so the many stories go. With all this negative publicity, it’s easy to see why administrators run in the other direction when someone tries to convince them to engage in social media.
But the reality is that so much good can come from engaging in using social media on a professional level. What have I learned from using it? Here’s the truth about what I’ve learned so far by engaging in its use.

1.  It has allowed me to network not only locally, but nationally and internationally. I have engaged in sharing information with other educators and administrators across the United States and Canada. I’ve been able to exchange ideas with an administrator in Saudi Arabia, a teacher in India, and a technologist in Australia. Social media is a tool that fosters the ability to build and maintain global network connections.

2. It provides me with a perpetual flow of educational resources and information. Social media tools keep me connected to the latest ideas regarding education reform and policy. It provides me with a steady stream of technology resources to share with my staff and with others. It is a daily dose of professional development. Social media is a tool that connects me with cutting edge information in the field of education and beyond.

3. It helps me develop a 21st century understanding of social media’s place in our global society. As a consumer of social media professionally, I know blocking access to it will not make it go away. It has an established place in our information society, and treating it like some dirty magazine sitting behind a counter in the convenience store is not helping me be a 21st century educator, and it is depriving students of access to an important part of our culture. Using social media helps me to understand that its value far outweighs the horror stories in the media.

4. It allows me to engage in a global conversation about education with educators and others around the world. There is an international debate occurring about education reform, the proper place of technology, and many other education topics. That conversation is happening through social media tools, and the administrator who wants to take part in that discussion, needs to engage in the use of those tools. Using social media gives me a means and a voice in what is happening in education today.

How do we get more administrators engaged in the use of social media and engage in developing professional learning networks? It’s an uphill battle to get them to look past those horror stories, but perhaps we can get them to look beyond those. Those who continue to try to wall out that which they fear, will find the world has passed them by.


  1. John,

    Great post with some great points. I think too often the negative stories overpower the positive stories. Each negative story seems to explode while the positive stories seem to remain somewhat unknown. I think your points of why we need social media are clear, but just the same educators should be using social media to celebrate the success stories and continue putting out our own type of positive PR.

    Great post!

  2. Great post. I wish you were my principal.

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