#Edleaders and the Myths and Truths of Social Media

myths-socialmediaAs an educational leader, social media has become a significant part of my daily work. I set time aside every morning to learn something new, whether it be from my RSS reader (Feedly), numerous blogs or Twitter. There are also various other unscheduled times throughout the day when I’ll check in on these resources for even more new learning. As a consumer in the information age, I find social media to be transformational – changing the way I approach and think about my own practice and ways in which I connect with other people, both virtually and face-to-face. Social media is very powerful!

I stumbled upon (yes, serendipity is one of those fine qualities of learning through social media) a presentation by Dionne Kasian-Lew, author of The Social Executive. The presentation is on Slideshare and titled the 6 damaging myths about #socialmedia for leaders & the truths behind them. I was hooked from the 3rd slide… “…and executives are missing in action.” Well, yeh…school leaders are, too. It sounds like a lack of interaction on social media by leaders is not simply a problem in education – it’s everywhere.

Kasian-Lew suggests that leaders are misguided by 6 damaging myths, which she balances with 6 truths (be sure to check out the Slideshare for more detailed explanations of each):

  1. Myth: Social media is a fad. Truth: Social media is here to stay.
  2. Myth: Social media is for posting what you ate for lunch. Truth: Social media captures human moments.
  3. Myth: Social media is for code monkeys. Truth: Social media is for everyone.
  4. Myth: Social media is for people under 25. Truth: Social media is about relationships.
  5. Myth: Social media is for marketing. Truth: Social media is about immediacy, connectivity and impacts the whole of business.
  6. Myth: Their is no ROI on social media. Truth: ROI is complex to measure but social and digital deliver measurable value.

As I reflected on the content – both myths and truths – I wondered how we get more school leaders engaging with social media. Sure, I see more and more use of tools like Twitter at conferences, but unless it’s a technology conference, it’s the same dozen people engaging through the conference hashtag. How do we get leaders to at least give it a try?  How do we get to a tipping point? What is holding leaders back? Time? Some of the myths?

In my work at Moravian College with both pre-service and in-service teachers, learning and connecting through social media has become central. The students initially struggle with understanding the technical aspects of the various tools, but once they invest the time, they begin to see the power of the knowledge and people they can connect with. Many then reflect on the power of these tools for their students’ inquiry and learning. They begin to see how technology can actually transform the learning process rather than simply make it more efficient. But to get there, they have to give it a try, and they have to persist over time. They have to experience the power for themselves and then take the time to think and reflect upon how it can benefit their own learning as well as the learning of their students.

Experience. Time. Persistence. Reflection. From my work, these are some ways we can overcome the myths of social media.

What are your experiences engaging school leaders with social media? What strategies have you used to lead your leaders to an understanding of the power of social media? How do we model and transfer this new way of inquiring to our teachers and students? As Kasian-Lew suggests – social media is here to stay.

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