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: by contacting Dr. Hughes at

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:

Situational ingenuity of teachers: The key to transformative, content-focused technology integration

Yesterday, I spent a very enjoyable day at the University of Houston, Victoria School of Education. In addition to meeting with them to discuss their new educational technology degree program, I presented for a colloquium that drew university professors, PK-12 teachers in the Victoria school district, and university students. I met several 5th grader teachers – two who were sitting near each other and work in two of the more rural schools in Victoria – so they got to meet each other. There was a gentleman who taught a plethora of subjects at a high school – crossing both science and history. I met about 6 undergraduates who are earning their degrees in teaching. And UHV university student recruited his mom, also a practicing teacher, to attend. Several of the COE and UHV administration was also in attendance. As advertised, it was quite a diverse audience.

In my presentation (see below), I share my vision for the use of digital technologies in education. I refer to it as transformative, content-focused classroom technology integration. I illustrate this concept through 3 stories of practice: from teachers, a school and its district, and a college of education. Tom is a mathematics teachers who designs a lesson with ropes, video, ipads, and graphing calculators to help students learn to write an equation for a trig function. Hilly High School began a iPad learning innovation in which all students receive iPads – I share how they developed their vision which included both a technology-focus and a learning-focus. Finally, I share data on preservice teachers’ use of social technologies and discuss how COEs could design a set of experiences that would develop preservice teachers to be connected educators. These will show the possibilities but also many of the challenges involved in this work. In these stories, I hope that you’ll discover ways that you, as a teacher, a school leader, a teacher educator, a parent, can assist in this transformation. I end by describing “situational ingenuity” and how I see teachers as most interested in this challenging work in their classrooms and how I see it as the key to designing content-focused, technology-supported innovations in classrooms.

Wait, wait don’t tell me… a live show from UT graduate students (example tech-supported lesson)

I’m sharing one of the lesson activities my students completed in my graduate course, “Teaching and Learning with the Internet” taught in Fall 2010 at The University of Texas at Austin.

The lesson is called Wait, wait, don’t tell me! The Oddly Informative Tech Quiz.  No doubt this will sound familiar as it is built off of the popular NPR show of almost the same name.

I had several goals in mind for this lesson. I wanted students: (a) to realize the range of Internet-based news sources related to education, such as through websites, blogs, twitter feeds, communities, etc. (b) to begin following a few of these sources for at least a few weeks, (c) to engage with the information by participating in a live news quiz show, and (d) to practice podcast development.

The live show occurred on November 2 (election day). Students were responsible for recording the live show in order to then produce the podcast. They used various tools for recording, such as computers, Audacity, digital voice recorders, wireless and wired microphones, and even an iPhone (as a backup – which turned out to be needed!).


Please listen to the live show (34 minutes with 4 episodes – each are about 7 minutes each):


The lesson plan, instructions, and rubric I developed can be found below.