Social media can be a great tool for teachers.
Here are a few examples of what I mean:
Twitter is a great tool to get new input for teachers and principals. In the beginning it´s all about finding a few interesting people that tweet about education and/or ICT to follow. Once you start following a few active people you can see who they talk to and/or retweet that are worth following.
Twitter is also a great place to get answers to specific questions as long as a question can be within one or two tweets (one tweet can be a maximum of 140 characters long). If you want to write longer tweets you can write text in a normal document and then take a screenshot and embed the screenshot (as a picture) in a tweet. You can also try to get in contact with people that are really good at what you need help with.
@ (at) is the symbol that shows who is who on twitter. When you get an account you need a nickname. Mine is @Aland72. I also have a second account, @jlsuse. That´s the way other people can write messages (tweets) that show up on your page. Try to find a short nick, since you need to keep your tweets within 140 characters and every nick will steal some of those characters.
# (hashtag) is the symbol that makes content of a tweet searchable. For instance if I write a tweet about ICT I can use the hashtag #ICT and anyone who search for #ICT will find my tweet.
There are lots of guides online that illustarate how Twitter works:
A few examples on who to follow when getting a new account if you´re interested in education and/or ICT::
@Aland72 (that´s me; I write in both swedish and english)
@ddmeyer (if you´re intrested in math)
For more edtech-related accounts to follow, take a look at this list.
Of course there are many more that are worth following, but if you add the ones in the list above you´re up for a good start. You control the flow of your twitter, so if you start following someone that don´t write about stuff you´re interested in, just unfollow that person.
Facebook has a function that not everyone is using but that has great value. It´s called groups. It´s very easy to start a group yourself or search for existing groups. In Sweden there are groups for about every aspect of school you can think about. Most people use them to share great ideas, good resources, links to articles in papers that are worth reading and so on. They can also be used to ask questions to get answers from ather teachers. Your school can also make a group to have it as an internal source of sharing ideas between teachers (or students depending on how old they are).
Both twitter and facebook can be used in a passive manner in the beginning. That means that you´re observing what others are doing/saying/sharing. When you are comfortable you can become active and start sharing yourself.
Remember to be kind and do not behave in an unfriendly way. If you don´t agree with other people you´re welcome to say that, but in a friendly manner.
By using these tools the information you´re interested in will come to you instead of you having to search for it all over the place.
I know many teachers think ”How can I get the time to do that as well?”, but as a friend of mine (he works as a teacher) said: ”It helps you to develop and become a better teacher and often you save time instead of you making things from scratch!” Getting great ideas from others is such a great reward.
WordPress is a a site where you and/or your students can create a blog for free. The tool is easy to use and if you let your students write on a blog it´s ”for real” which makes the students step up compared to when only the teacher reads what they write. The tool is of course what you make it to be. It´s possible to approve or disapprove comments made on the blog. I use WordPress, so this site is an example of how a wordpressblog can look. My old blog is another example.
Other tools that can be useful:
Google+ (Google has created their own tool that are a bit similar to facebook)
Tumblr (a place where you can collect pics, video, text chats, links and sounds into a ”blog”)
Pinterest (share photos)
Flickr (share photos)
LinkedIn (a social media when you need to connect professionally with other people or when you´re searching for a new job)