Librarians use social networking more than other educators, including teachers and principals, according to a recent report conducted by MMS Education and sponsored by edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data.
Culled from the responses of 694 randomly selected educators, including librarians, teachers, and principals, the study compares findings with those from a similar survey conducted in 2009.
According to the report, “2012 Survey of K-12 educators on Social Networking, Online Communities, and Web 2.0 Tools,” 82 percent of all K-12 educators now use social networking for personal and professional use, up from 61 percent in 2009.
The study provides information about educators’ favorite sites by category and reveals social networking patterns by age and frequency of use. It also reveals educators’ concerns about privacy and provides information about school district technology access policies for students and teachers.
Facebook, Edmodo, and the Discovery Educator Network most popular in their categories
Facebook is the most used social networking venue among respondents, with 85 percent using the site, the same percentage as in 2009.
LinkedIn is the second most popular, accessed by 41 percent of respondents, up from 14 percent in 2009. Twitter is third, at 39 percent, followed by Google+ (27percent), Ning (11percent), and MySpace (20 percent).
Younger educators network the most, with 97 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds networking online, as opposed to 75 percent of respondents who are 55-plus, according to the report.
Among education-focused sites, Edmodo has the most members, accessed by 27 percent of respondents, followed by edWeb.net (15 percent), ASCD EDge (9 percent), Classroom 2.0 (9 percent), We are Teachers (6 percent), Teacher 2.0 (5 percent), NSTA Learning Center (4 percent), and Educators PLN (3 percent).
Librarians use the first four of these education-focused sites more than teachers or principals, according to the study. Looking forward, 31 percent of librarians say that they will likely join a new networking and PD site in the next year, as opposed to 22 percent of teachers and 31 percent of principals.
For librarians, the top five branded online communities are the Discovery Educator Network (49 percent), Edutopia (31 percent), PBS Teachers (30 percent), Thinkfinity (25 percent), and BrainPOP Educators (24 percent).
Webinars are the most popular networking tool among educators, while document sharing is the most used in classrooms.
Concern over privacy and restrictive school policies
Forty five percent of respondents express concern about privacy on education sites, while 26 percent worry about inappropriate relationships with students. Twenty six percent are concerned that affiliation with a social network “might head to an incident that would jeopardize my job,” according to the report. Among those surveyed, 80 percent keep their personal and professional accounts separate most of the time.
Twenty-three percent believe that their school or district’s policy on Web 2.0 tools is restrictive to teachers, and 47 percent think their schools’ regulations are a hindrance to students.
Fifty four percent of respondents work in districts that allow kids to bring their own devices to school, but only five percent of those schools allow students to use them with no restrictions. 64 percent of educators think it likely that their districts will “open up policies on BYOD in the future.”
“There is growing awareness that online communities help teachers create an extended personal learning network and access a wealth of professional development resources—often at no cost to the teacher,” a press release connected to the report states.
The press release adds that the U. S. Department of Education has encouraged educators to access online resources by declaring August 2012 “Connected Educator Month,” along with initiatives including the 2010 National Education Technology Plan and the Connected Online Communities of Practice Project (COCP).