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Social networking on the rise for educators


Facebook remains the most popular social networking tool among educators.

Educators’ use of social networking sites has seen a large jump since 2009, according to a new report that surveyed educators’ membership, use, privacy practices, and other social networking habits.

The report, A Survey of K-12 Educators on Social Networking, Online Communities, and Web 2.0 Tools 2012, was conducted by MMS Education and sponsored by edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data.

“As part of edWeb’s participation in Connected Educator Month, we offered to update our 2009 survey to see how participation in social networking has changed in three years. We know from our work in the field that it’s increasing, but it’s great to have concrete data to look at and to see how participation varies by age, by job function, by context,” said Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO of edWeb.net.

“Based on the comments we received, educators need more training and support to move forward faster, and we have a long way to go to open up access to these kinds of sites for students in the classroom.”

Eighty-two percent of all educators belong to at least one social networking site. Facebook still is the most popular social network that educators join, but membership in LinkedIn, edWeb.net, and Classroom 2.0 is increasing. Educator membership also is high on Twitter, Google+, and Edmodo.

Eighty-five percent of educators who belong to at least one social network belong to Facebook, and 68 percent of all educators surveyed are Facebook members. When examined by job description, librarians (89 percent) show the highest level of participation within social networking sites.

Membership is higher for younger educators up to 34-year-olds (97 percent). Eighty-five percent of educators ages 35-54 participate in social networking, and participation drops with age, with 75 percent of educators ages 55 and older belonging to a social network.

Most educators (80 percent) keep their public and private social media accounts separate most or all of the time and continue to have legitimate concerns about privacy issues. But despite those concerns, educators say social networks are valuable for collaborating with colleagues, finding resources, and establishing and growing personal learning networks.

Eighty-four percent of educators said they are concerned about their personal privacy while on general social networking sites, but only 45 percent expressed the same concerns when on an educational social networking site.

In addition to social networks, educators use blogs, wikis, webinars, and sharing services to expand their educational knowledge. Webinars are the top tool that educators use for professional purposes.

Thirty-eight percent of educators who belong to a social networking site said they use a smart phone on a regular basis to access those sites.

Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents said that their school or district’s access policy is restrictive for teachers who want to access Web 2.0 tools, and 47 percent said it is restrictive for students.

Thirty percent said their internet access is excellent, 45 percent said it is good, and 4 percent said it is poor. More than half (54 percent) of respondents said their districts let students bring their own devices to school, but most (49 percent) still operate with some restrictions.

The new research updates and expands a 2009 study, and it reveals that educators have significantly increased their adoption of social media tools for personal use and professional collaboration. In 2009, 61 percent of educators who responded said they had joined a social network, and that figure saw a 34-percent growth in 2012.

“This study highlights the significant changes that have occurred in just the past three years as teachers, librarians, and principals adapt to the impact of social media, Web 2.0 tools and mobile devices in education,” said Susan Meell, CEO of MMS Education, which conducted the research. “This new research indicates that more than 50 percent of the districts/schools surveyed allow students and teachers to bring their own mobile devices into the classroom — that alone has significant implications for marketing, sales, and product development.”

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Laura Ascione

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