Social media allows me to quickly communicate information and maintain a more transparent classroom culture. I use social media with my students, parents and peers. The entire process helps me stay connected as an educator by becoming a creator of content and sharing with others. I currently maintain a web page, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Flickr page, Twitter feed, Instagram feed, and this blog on WordPress. I know, it seems like a lot of work but it provides a digital window into my classroom and helps me connect to my learning community and classroom collaborators. To put it into simple terms, the benefits are well worth the efforts. There are also digital tools that help with the maintenance of these accounts so the work is minimized and automated without losing authenticity.
My web page is more or less a static page (not much changes). This page is located on my school’s web page and contains my basic contact information. It also has a few links to my other media pages like online textbook, course/content management system (CMS), homework calendar and some others. I only update this page about once or twice a year but it provides a useful common access point for people looking for more information on my class.
My Facebook page is my most neglected page right now. I used it a lot a few years ago but have found it difficult to maintain that momentum. Recently I have heard from several parents and former students that have requested I post more to it. I stopped posting to my Mr. Peterson Page when Facebook changed their profile settings to allow people to “follow” my personal Facebook page without me having to “friend” them. The line between my private life and professional life is very blurry and I share many classroom happenings to my Facebook profile. That said, there are things I would like to share with my students parents that I might not want to share with my college friends. I need to make a decision on how to proceed with this page. I either need to delete it or resolve to add content in a more timely manner.
It could be argued that YouTube is not a social media site but with the number of people who are vlogging, I could make a case it is. I use my YouTube channel to share “flipped” lessons videos and create playlists. YouTube is the best place to store video content as there is no limit on storage space. Several of the video apps and creation tools I use allow me to export video directly to YouTube which is very helpful. YouTube is easy to embed into many other web pages including my CMS and is well support on almost all devices. There are also some video editing tools and sharing options I can change to optimize my content for students.
As an avid classroom photographer, I prefer to upload my photos to Flickr or Instagram instead of creating an album in Facebook and are more formal photos from my classroom and school. The intended audience with my Flickr page are parents and peers. Like with my YouTube page, my photo editing software (Adobe Lightroom) allows me to export images directly to my Flickr page and easily embed a photo feed into other web pages. These two tasks, help streamline my workflow to allow simple management of these sites. When I export the files, they are automatically updated on multiple pages. My Instagram page are for more casual images for a student centered audience. These images are typically shared right from my phone and not taken with my DSLR. In short, I see my Flickr page as photo albums collections while Instagram is more of a photo log.
I view my Twitter as a micro blog where I can also follow individuals who make up my PLN. I use it to keep up with current trends in education and learning while sharing what is happening in my classroom. I use an app called “IFTTT” to help connect my Instagram account to my Twitter. Every time I post to Instagram, that post is then also shared to my Twitter account. I feel it is essential I do everything I can do to optimize my workflow and optimize my productivity. I also recommend you avoid the use of “robots” to auto reply to tweets or messages. These are not hard to spot and reduce your authenticity.
These social media accounts provide a digital window into my classroom. I find it useful to think of my target audience when I consider what I post and where to post it. Parents can see their children doing science and be connected to what is happening in their learning. My students get to know more about me and feel more connected to my interests. I feel the use of social media is important to provide a transparent and timely view into what is happening in my class and be able to articulate why it is happening in the specific way. The process keeps me connected as an educator and something I recommend to all teachers.