On 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.
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?