Educators’ Use of Social Networking and Content-Sharing Tools

By November 17, 2009 One Comment

 

Social Media ToolsWe had the opportunity to participate in a Webinar hosted by MMS Education, edWeb.net and MCH, Inc. on Nov. 4, 2009, where they discussed the findings of their new Survey of K-12 Educators on Social Networking.

The survey was distributed to 82,000 teachers, librarians/media specialists and principals, with a 1.6 percent response rate.Focusing on the use of social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook among U.S. educators, here a few key findings:

  • 61 percent of surveyed educators have joined a social network.
    • Facebook is the site most educators have joined (85 percent); MySpace is a distant second (20 percent); and LinkedIn, a popular site for the business community, is third (14 percent).
  • Respondents are using social networking to connect with family and friends, although many are using these sites to connect with colleagues and to stay current with Web 2.0 technology.
  • Educators who have joined a social network are more positive about the value of this technology for educational use.
  • Social networks dedicated to education (Classroom 2.0, edWeb.net, Tapped In, TeachAde, WeAreTeachers, We the Teachers) have low penetration thus far, but there is growing awareness.
  • Respondents repeatedly expressed the need or desire to keep their online personal and professional lives separate.
  • Significant differences were found in attitudes and behavior of teachers, principals and library/media specialists.  Librarians were the most likely to join a social network (70 percent), followed by teachers (62 percent) and then principals (54 percent).
    • Librarians are the most positive about the value of social networking in education, but express frustration with school districts that block access.
    • Principals have some reservations about social networking and feel behind the curve, but accept that the technology is here to stay.
    • Teachers see how students use this technology, and believe it is needed for success in life, but feel they have little time to use it, and express concerns about their privacy.

Educators also were asked about their use of content-sharing sites and tools, including YouTube, TeacherTube, Wikipedia, blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, Google Docs, Delicious, Digg, Ustream, Webinars, Twitter, podcasts, Flickr, and widgets.

  • For personal use, the number one tool is YouTube; for professional use, the top tool is Webinars; for classroom use, the primary tool is Wikipedia.

What does this mean for education technology vendors?

The number of educators and school level administrators using social media platforms is growing, but those who are participating could be considered early-adopters, passionate about technology use in the classroom.We do not recommend using these tools to “push” news or your marketing agenda.Rather, participate in these communities to learn about the needs of your potential customers.Listen to what they discuss.Learn what they are looking for in various products, and adapt your marketing, sales and product development strategies accordingly.

In addition, the results highlight the advantages of using Webinars for communications and professional development with principals and librarians, and of creating high-value educational videos to put on YouTube and TeacherTube for teachers to use in the classroom.Consider these options when developing materials and professional development programs that support your technology.

How are you using social networks to engage customers?