Activity 6 – Using social online networks in teaching and/or professional development


He waka eke noa

A canoe which we are all in with no exception

When I look back over the last few years I consider the rapid change that has occurred in my own use of social media. Ten years ago I had a digital footprint of zero. Now I google my name and the first three pages are filled with my use of social media, both personally and in the classroom.

I agree that there are benefits to using social media within the classroom, however I agree with netsafe that before embarking down this track and engaging students in online activities we must always question the purpose and the benefits for ourselves and our learners. As teachers, we need to approach introducing our students to social media with caution.

Luckily for us teachers there are a let of safe social networks for students and teachers that have been set up in response to the social network in education trend.

This year I have had to put serious thought into the way I incorporate social media into my classroom. I have changed schools from a High School to a Primary School. This career move has had implications on my social networking education practice:

  • Last year my students were able to have their own social network accounts, this year they are not old enough for a lot of social networking sites.
  • This year I am teaching in a collaborative team so need to make decisions on the sites we use together
  • The team I am working with this year have limited experience of social networking in education so I have had to provide a range of PD on this subject
  • The children have limited experience with online learning or social media so we have had to focus specific lessons on digital citizenship and safety online
  • Parents have limited experience with social networking being used as an educational tool so also needed some educating about the benefits
  • The team has moved to a BYOD iPad environment this year so there were expectations that the children would be working online for some of their learning time

As a team we needed to be careful to choose some targeted apps that had a very specific purpose and clear benefits for ourselves, our students and their whanau. We all felt that communication was key so that became a focus with one app (Class Dojo)for parent – teacher communication being very successfully implemented. Secondly we wanted students to be able to share their learning with their parents. Rather than set up blogs we used an online portfolio app (See Saw) that had the ability for three way connection student – parent – teacher. This has proven very successful as well. In Term 2 we noticed a need for students to be more organised with their self managed learning so we introduced an app (Trello) where they could track their tasks throughout the week and we could check in with them in person or online. Students are now completing their self managed learning before due dates and are much less worried about homework! Later in the year, as part of the gamification of the classroom, we introduced a collaborative team app (Classcraft) where students work together towards common goals for their learning and are rewarded for reaching their goals. These are just a few of the apps we are using, however I have chosen to share these ones as I believe they are the most successful. Why? Because we followed the golden rule: each app has a purpose and clear benefits for ourselves, our students and our community.

So where to next? In 2017 our team is changing and we will have younger children join the team as well. We will no doubt need to adapt the apps and social networks that we offer our children. These decision will need to be made as a collaborative team with four teachers. As well we will need to consult with the wider school community. As this consultation takes place over the next few weeks I will have these golden rules at the forefront of my thinking:

What is the purpose? What are the benefits for learning? What are the benefits for learners, teachers, whanau and the wider community?


Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrived on 05 May, 2015 from

Silius, K., Miilumäki, T.,Huhtamäki, J.,Tebest, T., Meriläinen, J., & Pohjolainen, S.(2010) ‘Students’ motivations for social media enhanced studying and learning.’ Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 2, (1). Retrieved on 7th May,2015 from


2 thoughts on “Activity 6 – Using social online networks in teaching and/or professional development

  1. Kia ora Bronwen
    What a satisfying read for you and an inspiring piece for me. It’s so much easier to do things when the relationship is there, but it too can be advantageous when stepping into ‘first time’ stuff as well. Well done for stepping out of the secondary arena and into primary. Transition can be just as hard for teachers as it is for students. Well done you and thanks for sharing. Tiere


    1. Thanks for your comments, Tiere. It’s great to be a part of such a positive support community! I’m glad that we are all a part of this journey together, although we may have never met. Isn’t social media amazing??


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