Research conducted by Faculty of Education undergraduate student, Parker Bijl, reveals that teachers use Twitter for professional development and community.
One of the things Parker Bijl appreciates most about the teaching profession is the support and camaraderie that exists among educators at all levels. For Bijl, this is particularly evident through the social media platform of Twitter. "We had to make an account for one of our classes,” says the University of Lethbridge student who is completing his final semester of a BA/BEd degree. “I started to create an active presence, following a lot of people and getting a bit of a following back.”
Bijl values Twitter for enabling him to interact with colleagues, gain up-to-the-minute news in education, and access a plethora of professional development ideas and resources.
When COVID-19 struck, Bijl recognized even greater potential for teacher education through Twitter.
He wanted to know what others thought, so as part of a class on web-based learning, he undertook a study. “I put a video out on my social media feed asking for feedback,” he says. “I wanted to hear from teachers, pre-service teachers, and principals how they view Twitter as a professional development tool, good or bad. I thought I’d be lucky enough to hear from ten or 15 people.”
Almost eight thousand views, including messages, likes, and retweets poured in from around the globe. Overwhelmingly, educators in Canada, Germany, China, Australia and the United States confirmed their experience of Twitter as an important tool for professional development.
In addition to connection with colleagues anytime, anywhere, the platform provides teachers with a seemingly endless supply of ideas for the classroom. “It’s an opportunity during the time of Covid for them to access live conferences that are available weekly,” says Bijl, “and gives them the freedom to choose what learning they’re getting, and how they want to grow professionally.”
Research conducted by Dr. Paul Doyle at the University of Manitoba indicates 58% of educators polled prefer using Twitter over traditional methods for professional development.
Bijl reported his findings in an online presentation that serves as a guide for educators and is available on Twitter and YouTube. As a pre-service teacher, he feels he is still on the receiving end of all that Twitter offers, but he looks forward to the day he can contribute more.
The goal when I graduate is to be that active presence, offering and providing resources for other teachers on how to access different professional opportunities to further their development,” Bijl says.
Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan | Photo courtesy of Parker Bijl
Related story links to Faculty of Education Research:
• Coping with COVID-19 and Harnessing our Natural Stress Response: Dr. Dawn McBride
• Coping with COVID-19 and Loneliness: Dr. Dawn McBride
• How Students Can Get Screen Time Break During COVID-19: Experts
• The Intersectionality of Faith, Mental Health and Wellness for Racialized Populations During the Pandemic: Dr. Sandra Dixon
• Bridging Neuroscience and Education: Riley Kostek (BSc’09/BEd’11)
• Five questions with Shining Graduate Rita Lal (BSc/BEd '01, MEd '20)
• Teaching Multiple Literacies in Canadian Classrooms: Sarah Gagnon (BSc/BEd’11, MEd candidate)
• Wellness is About Writing: Teri Hartman (BA/BEd '02, current MEd student)
• Leadership in Education: The Power of Generative Dialogue by Drs. Pamela Adams, Carmen Mombourquette, and David Townsend
• A Generative Approach to Leadership for All Educators: Drs. Pamela Adams and Carmen Mombourquette
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