New Research! Trends in Future Teachers’ Social Networking Activities

Graduate student researchers, Yujung Ko, Mihyun Lim, and Sa Liu, and I have published a research study that identified college students in one teaching certification program had limited exposure and use of social networking technologies over a four year period from 2008 to 2012, available in the current issue of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education.

While nearly all of these college students reported using Facebook, 60% reported reading blogs, writing on blogs, or reading wikis. Only 10% wrote on a wiki, and 20% had read/wrote on Twitter. Those who were using these social networking technologies tended to consume/read content more than write/create/share content for others. Those students who used Facebook and Twitter, used it mostly for personal purposes. Reading blogs, wikis, and writing on blogs was done for both educational and personal purposes. Writing in wikis, which only 10% reported doing, was done predominantly for educational purposes. The majority of these students put “a lot” of restrictions on their social networking accounts, and they indicated being “somewhat unlikely” to use social networking in their future teaching.

Because these college students reported limited experiences with social networking technologies for educational purposes, the researchers concluded that as they graduate and become classroom teachers, they will be unprepared to involve social networking technologies for classroom/learning experiences or for their own professional learning in the future. Beyond Facebook, these teachers had little social networking experience for personal or educational purposes.

Using social networking technologies with children can include mainstream technologies such as Twitter (the minimum age for an account is 13) but also products designed specifically for PK-12 such as Edmodo, both of which may enable learning activities to have wider, authentic audiences, personalization through pursuit of child-driven interests that may be community-based inquiries, as demonstrated by many researchers. Choosing when, why, and how to use social networking with children requires teachers to critical consider the teaching context, content, and instruction. In addition, social networking activities among teachers undergird USDOE’s connected learning initiatives that support teachers in becoming connected educators. Every October is Connected Educator’s Month during which crowd-sourced learning opportunities become available for professional learning.

From their research, Dr. Hughes and her co-researchers concluded there is a need for inclusion of more explicit social networking educational activities across teacher education preparatory programs to ensure that future educators have experiences that will inform their decision-making regarding optimal social networking technologies for (a) teaching and learning in PK-12 schools and (b) for professionally developing themselves through technologically-connected experiences. In the research paper, the researchers developed and described a 3-part sequence of experiences for teacher education programs designed to expose preservice teachers to social networking technologies and consider the experiences’ educational affordances and risks.

The full research article is available at the journal’s website: http://www.editlib.org/p/130448/or by contacting Dr. Hughes at joanh@austin.utexas.edu.

Hughes, J. E., Ko, Y., Lim, M. , & Liu, S.(2015). Preservice teachers’ social networking use, concerns, and educational possibilities: Trends from 2008-2012. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 23(2), 185-212. Chesapeake, VA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education. Available: http://www.editlib.org/p/130448/