Using social online networks for teaching/professional learning (Week 30)

Karen Melhuish mentions in her 2013 thesis on social online networking, we are all busy. Teachers and those involved in the education sector seem to be busy all the time- I know that’s how I feel a lot of the time. It always feels like there’s never enough time to get everything done- the to do list is never completed (that might be a blog for another day). Despite this lack of time and the feeling of always being busy Karen also noted that we as teachers need to get involved with (and make time for) social media if we want to experience the opportunity to discuss and debate the ins and outs of what we do- a space to critically reflect on our practice (Melhuish, 2013).

My thoughts on social networks for teaching and professional learning is positive. Sure, there are downsides to using social media such as privacy and blurred boundaries but overall the benefits fall favourably on the positive side. I use Twitter for professional learning and Facebook for personal and professional use. Most groups/organisations I follow use both but as yet there are a few that are still to jump on Twitter. The outdoors community is one such group that favours Facebook over Twitter and I’m yet to see large amounts of OED teachers on Twitter…one day!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been active on Twitter or Facebook lately…life got busy (there’s that word again!). I’m making an effort from next week to get back on board and play a bit of catch up on blogs, podcasts and the usual people I follow. The main reason I like Twitter is that I can tailor it to my own personal wants, needs and goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean I follow people that have the same ideas as me- I’d say it’s about a 50-50 split. I like people that make me think and through their thoughts and ideas, help me to critique what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and why. Twitter chats are an excellent way to do this and I’m feeling the need to get back to my #BFC630NZ whanau as soon as possible.

When it comes to my teaching, I use facebook to communicate with my students but wish I could use social media more like the teacher in this video. She has managed to bring the outside world into her classroom. At this stage, my school is not keen on this happening. We are currently working on social media and privacy policies to allow this to hopefully happen soon. I’m always keen to keep our kids and colleagues safe but it’s a little sad that paperwork is holding up the process.

Why do I use social media? I’m sure we’ve all said to our students something along the lines of two heads are better than one when encouraging co-operative collaborative learning. I feel that we’re no different and if the opportunity presents itself for us to work with educators across the world without leaving the couch, then why not? Since being encouraged by a friend to join Twitter a few years ago and then shown by another friend how to actually use it effectively, I have been blown away by the things I have learned. It also turns out that I can help others learn new things too.

My advice…get on the Twitter train! It has heaps of stops/stations and you can get on and off when and wherever you want (or need!).



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

TVO Parents. (2013). Using Social Media in the Classroom. Retrieved from


About Jo Smith

Health & PE teacher and TIC Outdoor Education at Aotea College.
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3 Responses to Using social online networks for teaching/professional learning (Week 30)

  1. tieremaoate says:

    Kia ora Jo
    Enjoyed your blog. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed Ms Cassidy’s video too and noticed how relaxed her students were with their devices. I felt that the teacher was one who was very connected to her students and their needs. I loved the way she took the event with the other school and made it relative to their learning and not ‘another thing to do’.
    I too wish that social media integration was already happening in my current school. Unfortunately, in my case it’s not paperwork that’s holding up the works, but real ‘old school’ mindsets. Through past experiences and now my Mindlab journey, I truly believe that we do ourselves and those students we teach a dis-service by not engaging in the world of digital learning. Nga mihi.


    • Jo Smith says:

      Kia ora Tiere,
      thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I agree with you about mindsets and believe me when I say paperwork is not the only thing holding us up. Mind Lab has been excellent for allowing us to see what’s possible but challenging in regards to what’s not quite happening in our schools. Time for us Mind Labbers to be those agents of change in our schools and help initiate the shift Cheers, Jo


  2. celiafleck says:

    Kia ora Jo,
    As you know I am a HUGE fan of Twitter. In the last few years that I have been on Twitter it has been a valuable and rewarding source of Professional Development. It is inspiring the people that are willing to share and contribute to a professional network – it creates a ‘Community of Learning’ in a much larger sense than your own school community – and allows educators to connect and collaborate so that we can improve outcomes for ALL ākonga in Aotearoa regardless of which school they attend or whose class they are in.
    Thanks for your blog,

    Liked by 1 person

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