The final report on our 2012 research that benchmarks educators’ participation in social networks and online communities is available for download. The report, A Survey of K-12 Educators on Social Networking, Online Communities, and Web 2.0 Tools 2012 was conducted by MMS Education and sponsored by edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data.
Facebook remains the #1 social network educators have joined, but other sites are gaining ground especially LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, edmodo, and edWeb.net. Education-focused social networks are gaining momentum as a category as educators continue to have concerns about privacy and professionalism, particularly with the general/consumer social networks.
The new research updates and expands upon a study conducted in 2009, and shows that educators have significantly increased their adoption of social media tools for personal use and professional collaboration. In 2009, 61% of educators who responded said they had joined a social network compared to 82% in 2012 – an increase of 21 percentage points or 34% growth. The final report breaks down results for principals, teachers, and librarians. As in 2009, librarians continue to have the highest percent participation in social networks, followed by teachers, and then principals. All groups have made significant advances in the past three years.
The study delves into detail about the sites educators have joined, how frequently they use them, how they use them, and the value and concerns around using social networking in education. The 2012 study asks new questions about the use of mobile devices, Internet bandwidth, and school/district access policies for students and teachers.
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. The benefits of joining online communities has been clearly articulated and advocated by the U.S. Department of Education in the National Education Technology Plan and through the Connected Online Communities of Practice Project (COCP), an initiative that encourages all educators to take advantage of online professional learning opportunities. The U.S. DOE declared August 2012 “Connected Educator Month.”
Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO of edWeb.net commented, “As part of edWeb’s participation in Connected Educator Month, we offered to update our 2009 survey to see how participation in social networking has changed in three years. We know from our work in the field that it’s increasing, but it’s great to have concrete data to look at and to see how participation varies by age, by job function, by context. Based on the comments we received, educators need more training and support to move forward faster, and we have a long way to go to open up access to these kinds of sites for students in the classroom.”
MMS Education conducted the research. Susan Meell, CEO, commented, “This study highlights the significant changes that have occurred in just the past three years as teachers, librarians and principals adapt to the impact of social media, Web 2.0 tools and mobile devices in education. This new research indicates that more than 50% of the districts/school surveyed allow students and teachers to bring their own mobile devices into the classroom — that alone has significant implications for marketing, sales and product development.”