Education technology isn't just for the classroom. Today's educators have a number of social networks available at their fingertips. That's why we launched our Social Networks and Resources for Educators Directory this week. (You should check it out!)
A handful of these sites serve as valuable professional development tools. Looking for a new job? There's a social network for that. Need some peer feedback? You're covered there, too. Want to compare lessons? You get the idea.
Whether they're education's answer to LinkedIn—we have a whole list on how teachers can use that—or just a great way to connect, observe or evaluate, these six social networks for educators can be worth signing up for.
EdWeb is best known for its free and open professional development services. A professional social and learning network for teachers, administrators and school districts, it hosts over 100 webinars each year—a good deal of which focus on classroom technology. Several smaller professional learning communities exist within the site, as well, so that like-minded members can easily connect via discussion boards and other personalized resources.
A professional social network for scientists and researchers, Researchgate makes it possible for users to share papers and find collaborators from a variety of disciplines. The site features profile pages, groups, a forum for users to ask and answer questions, and user-generated job listings. The sharing of raw data and experiments both successful and not increases the site’s appeal, as does the “RG Score” reputation metric applied to resources.
3. DISCOVERY EDUCATOR NETWORK
Cost: Varies (subscription required)
Operated by Discovery Communications, Discovery Educator Network is an online community with K-12 educators in mind. The site facilitates virtual collaboration and provides free access to some products and services, though a $295 license is required for some content. Members can read and comment on discussion threads and also participate in webinars, many of which are intended to improve skills with education technology.
Edthena provides teachers with an online platform for performance observation, review and coaching. Class videos can be uploaded for colleagues to leave feedback on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of various methods, and comments can be time-stamped to show specific moments referenced. The idea is that Edthena focuses on feedback and improvement rather than just being a performance evaluation, and the lack of an additional adult physically present in the room allows kids to continue acting as they normally would instead of changing their behavior.
Essentially the LinkedIn of education, Tioki is a professional social network targeting K-12 educators and college professors. Users can tag grades and subjects they teach and technology they use, and also list skills that their peers can vouch for. Like most social networks, there are also groups that members can join based on specific backgrounds and interests, and instructors can connect their profiles with those they have on other sites. Along with their resumes, users can also post video demo lessons.
Cost: Free for individual teachers, $25+ for schools and districts
SmarterCookie allows K-12 teachers to upload short videos of their lessons and invite other teachers to view and offer feedback. Comments with specific reference points can also be time-stamped. As an observational tool, SmarterCookie forgoes direct in-class observation by an administrator—and the change in student behavior that can accompany it—providing a more accurate look at how a teacher is doing and what they can do better.
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