As teachers put the finishing touches on lesson plans for the upcoming school year, educators continue to clash with administrators over the role of social media in the classroom.
Proponents have lobbied for the freedom to use Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networking applications as teaching tools. Detractors of the practice contend such sites present an ongoing security risk and are a potential distraction for students.
Given the intimate role that social media already plays in student interactions beyond the controlled environment of school, even the technology’s staunchest opponents concede it’s only a matter of time before social media breaks through in education.
To use social media effectively, educators must be as comfortable with the technology as students are, if not more comfortable.
As a starting point for social media training, the tech gurus at Cisco Systems recently offered these 13 tips and tricks for launching a successful social media training initiative. The tips are geared toward business training, but they apply just as easily to education. (The following was extracted from a Cisco blog post by Petra Neiger.)
1. Do your homework. Assess where you are, where you need to be, set priorities, create a plan and pace yourself.
2. Set realistic goals. Consider resources/time needed for infrastructure, course creation/delivery, ongoing program management.
3. Realize one size doesn’t fit all. Be ready to tailor parts of your program to different audiences, make it clear who it’s for.
4. Think top down and bottom up. Approach training from the executive level (top) as well as from the trenches (bottom up).
5. Strike a balance between strategy and tactics. Make your coursework actionable and relevant. Keep it short and concise.
6. Be creative. Training can take many shapes: virtual 30-minute webinars with a Q&A, online discussion forums, hands-on labs, etc.
7. Put on your teacher hat. A training course is not the same as a simple presentation, even if delivered in PowerPoint.
8. Think beyond “policy” for course content. It’s only one course. Add how- tos, best practices, proof points and case studies.
9. Plan ahead. Create a learning path and make the program flexible so you can add more levels later as needed.
10. Make it official. Integrate your training program into your existing education or professional development system.
11. Make it count. Create a community for learning, a sense of belonging; offer incentives to participants, share successes.
12. Make it a team effort. Recruit your advanced practitioners to help deliver some courses based on your guidelines.
13. Evaluate and adjust. Solicit feedback, use feedback to improve, help people grow.
For more on social media training, log on to Twitter and follow the hashtag #smtraining.