Teachers turning to social media for learning and support

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 21:02

DENTON, Texas (UNT) - New research from a University of North Texas learning technologies professor found social media may be the way for struggling teachers to get the help they need.

“Twitter could be a life or career saver if you can join up with the right group and can even help with burnout,” said Scott Warren, associate professor of learning technologies.

Warren began his career as a middle school teacher in a lower economic school district where he struggled to learn how to communicate with the students. His difficult time was the basis of his research into how social media could be used as a teaching tool for teachers themselves. He found two major trends that could be used to benefit classrooms. The first, online education chats, are a new type of virtual classroom where you have a scheduled group discussion on a social website like Twitter.

“Since it’s public, people outside the class can join in and become part of a larger discussion,” said Warren. “You can get a broad range of ideas and experiences involved in the talk. However, it’s a type of teaching you have to keep in balance. Public spaces can be risky and you can isolate people who are nervous about speaking openly to the world. This is a teaching tool that has to be used in a very mindful, consciences way.”

Warren also found teachers could benefit from support groups on social media. He said it’s a way to get encouragement and new ideas from across the country.

“There are teachers out there who are brand new and who don’t have strong mentors within their own school,” said Warren. “This is a way for them to find peers who have been there and done that and have advice for how to handle a variety of issues that come up. They get social support, classroom management ideas and let you know what might work in the real world.”

Warren has been working on a new book about teaching theories and social media.  It’s due to be released in Spring 2017.

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