— Twopcharts London (@lon_twop_1000) April 25, 2014
This morning I received an unusual automated tweet- for once one that actually made me stop and think. In many ways my career so far as a teacher and educator has been shaped by the use of online sharing and social media networks. I’m not the only one; increasing numbers of teachers are getting online to share their practice, ideas, and even influence policy.
In my book ‘The Thinking Teacher‘, I argued we need teachers who take the time to think, to explore alternative scenarios of what their schools and their lessons could be and who seek out the challenge of points of view that contrast to those they have internalised. Often teachers find such a space is lacking from their hectic days in school, but significant numbers (although perhaps not percentages…) of them are finding this space online through communities that have formed on twitter and in the blogosphere. For some time, a growing number of teachers across the world have brought this online sharing offline in the form of TeachMeet events, where enthusiastic teachers get together to share stories and ideas from their classrooms.
Last month I spoke alongside Dame Mary Marsh, Sir Jim Knight, and David Price OBE about online sharing networks as part of Tom Doust’s ‘Flight’ event at Nesta. The research Tom conducted into TeachMeets and teacher sharing is now available online, as well as the videos from the event.
There is a huge power to this online networking and sharing, but there are also dangers. In the talk below I explore the benefits and the drawbacks of online education communities, which often are evangelically presented as being a positive revolution. I think the power of these networks is fairly evident, but they need to continue to evolve, and to do so we need to question some of the affordances and constraints that they offer.
We need to question how we can learn from online communities to continue to develop the wider teaching community, and continue to build teaching as a distinct field of ideas and practice. More below…