Blogs and Twitter Engagement Detriment to Employment?

source: http://www.charlesheflin.com/twitter-rolls-into-its-death-throwsOn an education related discussion board, someone asked for advice on how to increase their marketability as an already-qualified, but unemployed teacher. The poster asked about pursuing further qualifications at a university. Here is a portion of the surprising discussion that followed between me and another responder with very different opinions:

Me: Consider your web presence and online footprint. Set up a Twitter account following and engaging with other teaching professionals. Create a professional blog in which you reflect on teaching and learning and share experiences and resources. Volunteer to deliver some PD sessions on something you're good at for local teacher associations. Leave comments on other professional blogs providing feedback and asking questions. Join a national professional organization like (in your case) he National Council for the Social Studies so you get their journals and have access to the most current research. This kind of engagement with the profession speaks louder, in my opinion, than a few extra courses. Harder to do, maybe, but more valued - shows an ongoing and deep committment to the profession and developing your skills as an educator.

Him: If you applied to my school and an item on your resume shows that you are an educational blogger, or that you have x number of followers on twitter, I would politely ask you to leave my office. Hiring committees are far more interested in the fact that you have the appropriate qualifications than what your perceived commitment to the education community.

http://www.reddit.com/r/Teachers/comments/t39ts/need_guidance_on_making_a_decision_possibly/

From my point of view, blogs and twitter provide evidence of one's philosophy, engagement with the profession, depth of understanding and growth over time. Certainly it can work against an applicant in the absence of professional discretion. In such cases it still helps a hiring committee with their decision making.

By virtue of the fact that I am blogging about this issue and sharing the post on Twitter, my point of view is clear. Fortunately I am in a progressive school district at a school with a well-established and deep respect for professional learning and innovation. My resume will now prominently display a QR code to my blog address right beside my twitter name to ensure I am asked to leave such an office. Best for everyone.

Certainly nothing is black and white, and this isn't an "either or" issue, but maybe I'm wrong. What do you think is more critical to employability: advanced degrees? or miminum qualifications and active engagement with the profession? If you were on a hiring committee, would educational use of social media be an asset, or would it raise more concerns? How does professional development in informal social media compared to formal classes seen in terms of authenticity, rigor, applicability?

9 Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    I am quite new to the realm of Twitter and blogging but am really finding it has refreshed my motivation and increased my professional learning and engagement with other teachers tremendously. Our school is about to complete the transition to being a 1:1 laptop school. As we become more and more technologically progressive, what better opportunity for teachers and students alike to share their learning through responsible and professional (and stress these two words) use of blogs and social media??

    I am excited by the opportunities this is offering me and our Head of Middle School was equally excited when I shared my experience with her. I am meeting with our Principal on Wednesday to discuss how this might work in our classrooms in the near future. In my very humble opinion, if schools don't seriously consider these options, they risk lagging behind in an educational atmosphere that is becoming increasingly global by the day!

    • milesmac says:

      Excited for your 1:1 experience. Opens up so many possibilities by moving learning outside the classroom walls through virtual spaces. Digital citizenship is an important element of these experiences too. Learning in public using blog platforms also shifts the focus toward celebrating growth as well as the final products (as if anything is ever final).
      Will watch your blog for updates!

  2. Karla Cross says:

    Times they are a changing! I'm for engagement. But, perhaps because I am a part of the "choir!" I enjoy your blog!

    • milesmac says:

      Engagement happens in so many ways. Some are just more prepared to consider social media as a legitimate form of engagement than others. Thanks for the the note!

  3. I think you are absolutely right with your idea of making your social media or online presence prominent in your CV. There are people on both sides of the fence - those who think that social media is the way forward and those who think it is a waste of time. Personally I think it's akin to asking someone to be ashamed of their communication skills and ability to forge connections with other like-minded educators, but there you go!

    I think that while a certain level of education is essential to be able to work in an education role I'm not convinced by the need for anything further than a BEd or PGDE - nothing official anyway! And even then in my experience they didn't really teach communication or networking skills directly - it was a by-product of a very dry and theory-driven course.

    I'm very lucky to be part of a forward thinking school, but have fought losing battles in my past employment as well. I suppose the bottom line is that an employee has to be happy in their role and to feel supported in their endeavours, otherwise they will find somewhere more supportive to work - one's social media presence might help there too...

    • milesmac says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, Ian. For sure including social media on your CV will act as a good filter bring to light the employer's degree of openness to new communication forms. After having attended a tech-enabled conference with an active back-channel, I can't imagine simply sitting listening to the single speaker in the room. Happy to be in a place where we can explore and experiment.

  4. Sherri says:

    If I were on a hiring team today, I would place the engaged and connected teacher far ahead of one who is not. Decades ago when I graduated, the Education professors at that time reminded us that it was our professional responsibility to stay current. The message was clear - subscribe to professional journals, attend PD workshops, and stay connected. Twitter and blogs...these are those tools for today. And we have a responsibility to our students to remain current, no matter what subject we teach. My two cents.

    • milesmac says:

      It is hard to ignore the value and positive impact of social media on education today. Include the need to help students manage their digital presence and it is a no-brainer. Tanks for the comment!

  5. MrBridge204 says:

    Getting on twitter is one of the smartest things I've ever done for my own professional development. Having the opportunity to have professional educational discussions at any time with educators from around the world is invaluable.

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