Facebook Still King Among Social Networking Educators

By January 11, 2013 No Comments

As the popularity of social media exploded in the past decade, a variety of tools surfaced allowing educators to communicate with students and colleagues in new and creative ways. But with all new technology comes a learning curve.

To gauge how educators have adjusted to, and are using, social media these days, MMS Education, edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data collaborated to survey nearly 700 educators in 2012. A follow-up to a 2009 study, the 2012 questionnaire surveyed teachers, principals and librarians/media specialists.  We’ve summarized some key findings of the survey, released during a recent edWeb.net webinar.

While young educators are still most active on social networks, older teachers, librarians and principals have picked up on the technology. Here is a comparison for 2009 vs. 2012, broken down by age group, of the percentage of educators who say they participate in at least one social network:

Year Age 18-34 Age 35-54 Age 55+
2009 78% 65% 47%
2012 97% 85% 75%

Facebook remains the most popular social network, as 85% of respondents say they use the service, the same as in 2009. But the survey shows Facebook is no longer the only pony in the race. This snapshot of current usage rates on various sites shows several are becoming more popular, although they still pale in comparison to Facebook:  (Some of the sites were not included in the 2009 questionnaire).

Social Network 2009 2012
LinkedIn 14% 41%
Twitter Not asked 39%
Google+ Not asked 27%
Edmodo Not asked 27%
edWeb.net 2% 15%
Ning 11% 11%

Among education-specific social networks, edWeb.net, which co-sponsored the survey, was the most frequently visited by educators. According to the survey, 44% of educators who enjoy edWeb.net visit the site weekly or more frequently, with 32% of the users visiting the site monthly. To compare, 42% of educators said they visit Edmodo on a weekly or more frequent basis, with 26% percent indicating they visit the site monthly.

There are many reasons to expand one’s social network beyond Facebook.  The five most cited by educators are:

  1. To connect with family and friends
  2. To share information and resources
  3. To connect with professional colleagues
  4. To build a personal learning network
  5. To get support from peers

While connecting to family and friends remains most popular, for educators expanding their professional network, sharing information, and learning from other colleagues, are major reasons to participate.

A focus on becoming better educators also was evident. When asked what sort of new social networking site they might join in the next 12 months, here’s how members of the three professional groups responded:

A site for: Personal use Education in the classroom Professional development
Principals 4% 22% 31%
Teachers 5% 26% 22%
Librarians/Media Specialists 10% 25% 35%

As you can imagine, the survey team predicts that social media use will continue to expand, especially among educators hungry for professional collaboration.

If you’re an educator, we would love to hear why and how you use social networks, both in and out of the classroom, so please provide your comments below!