In education, professional development generally refers to school in-service workshops, in which a professional in academia or a curriculum expert travels to the school district and gives a presentation to the school faculty. Studies have shown that professional development is increasing vital to school success and increasingly important in facing challenges by different schools in integrating new laws, integrating new technology into schools, and meeting and enhancing achievement and success in schools.
Professional networking can be greatly enhanced through social networking sites and Web 2.0 tools. Some Web 2.0 tools that can be used for social networking in professional development are Facebook, Twitter, and DIIGO.
Everyone has heard of Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/). My mother, father, and four brothers all have Facebook accounts, as well as all of my family, friends, and co-workers. Famous celebrities have Facebook accounts, as well as small and large groups trying to get information out on the internet. Facebook has revolutionized that way people connect and network on the internet. While Facebook has a reputation for being strictly for social aspects, its capacity is so great that I am including in something future educators can use to connect to other teachers. For example, say you just joined a new school, and are looking for ways to connect with 1st-year teachers. The searches are endless. Besides searching for contacts you have met in college or school that are in education, you can connect with people in groups such that when you join you have instance access to their information, and can request to become with friends with him or her via the site. In the search bar, a user can type in teacher (971 results), or education (11,000 results).
Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/) is a soc
ial-networking website in which a user can “tweet” information that is going on daily, weekly, or monthly to connect with people about all different types of information and social media. I’m considering Twitter as a great social networking for professional development tool for many reasons. First, users can easily connect with other people be searching in the Search tab for the name of the user. Once they are found they can “follow” the user which enables him or her to receive that person’s tweets (when they update theirstatus with information). This is a great way to connect with people and find out the latest information via the internet or mobile phone. The best feature of Twitter is the ability to search for topics by looking up words/phrases that users “tag” in words after hash symbols. The search feature combined with the tagging system can be utilized to connect with other teachers which in then can be used to social network.
I wrote about diigo (http://www.diigo.com/) on another one of my blogs. DIIGO is a social bookmarking website where users can do various actions such as bookmark a webpage to view at a later time, tag a webpage in a specific category, highlight specific portions of the webpage, and/or attach sticky notes to a part of a web page to share with a users and share with a person or groups of people that are also on the DIIGO site. In a professional setting, teachers can link with other teachers by utilizing the bookmark features of DIIGO that enable users to select preferences and show other DIIGO users that are looking at the same page. Once two or more teachers link together, they can use the knowledge to socialize with one another and connect.