MMS Education, an organization that helps for-profit and not-for-profit organizations reach, engage, and measure impact in the PreK-20 education market, published a survey last month that detailed an expected general rise in educators’ use of social media, with an unexpected increase in use of social media sites designed specifically for educators. As educators of all ages have gradually become more acquainted with social media and have had increasing access to these websites through expanded Internet and smart phone availability, they have also shown a marked rise in interest in websites such as Edmodo and edWeb which cater specifically to educators and help educators avoid the ethical complications of being on the same social networks as their students.
The survey, sponsored by edWeb and MCH Strategic Data and conducted with 694 respondents, showed that Facebook came in first with 85% of responders using the giant of social networks. LinkedIn (41%) and Twitter (39%) came in second and third, respectively.
Some of the specialized education social media websites which have gained greater usage include Edmodo (27%), edWeb.net (15%), ACSD Edge (9%), Classroom 2.0 (9%), We Are Teachers (6%), Teacher 2.0 (5%), NSTA Learning Center (4%), and Educators PLN (3%). As evidence of the extremely rapid pace of change in this field, only three of these websites (edWeb.net, Classroom 2.0, and We Are Teachers) were around in 2009 to have been mentioned on that previous survey.
Between 2009 to 2012, the percentage of educators using social media increased from 61% to 82%. The survey also showed slightly higher usage by female educators and much higher usage by younger educators. 97% of educators between the ages of 18 and 34 participate in social networks whereas only 75% of educators older than 55 participate.
The categories of educators surveyed included teachers, principals, and librarians/media specialists. Out of these, librarians/media specialists have the highest level of participation, at 89%, although growth has occurred among all groups.
MMS Education made three conclusions based on their findings:
- The use of social networks and Web 2.0 tools will most likely continue to expand, especially among educators who use them for professional collaboration. This is the area that is most likely to grow, especially with the continued support of the U.S. DOE.
- It appears that the use of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom will continue to be hampered by restrictive policies regarding access for students. This is also a realm where some educators have concerns about the value and appropriateness of using these tools in school. More intervention will be needed to make these tools more accessible to students.
- More and more K–12 educators across all job categories are exploring the use of social networks and Web 2.0 tools, but many comment that more training and support is needed.