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    AACTE Hosts Webinar Series on Use of Twitter in Teacher Education

    Despite common caricatures of Twitter as the domain of callow teens and celebrity stalkers, it is a technology that should be taken seriously by teacher educators. Although social media has had a dramatic impact on communication in the modern world, the field of teacher preparation has been largely reluctant to add its voices to the mix. It is high time that we wake up to the role new media can play in our professional lives—and to the risks of remaining on the sidelines.

    We have seen what can happen when we allow others to decide how our story is told, especially those who view our work with suspicion or even outright hostility. When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that “many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st-century classroom,” for example, that message won broad circulation, including in social media. Today, the secretary’s and the U.S. Department of Education’s Twitter accounts reach more than 500,000 individuals. By comparison, AACTE’s Twitter account has approximately 5,600 followers.

    Clearly, A story about teacher education is being told, but it is neither THE story nor OUR story. Until teacher preparation programs take hold of the narrative, we risk allowing the negative messages to dominate: failing schools, poor teaching, and low-quality teacher preparation. We know this is not the entire story, but it is incumbent upon us to send that message and set the record straight—at the local as well as the national level.

    Twitter provides an efficient, effective, and robust platform to accomplish this goal. While colleges and universities can use a variety of social networks to help market and promote the work they do, it is the timeliness and reach of Twitter that makes it effective in engaging and promoting current and relevant topics. Twitter is likely to play an important role in how messages are communicated and narratives are shaped for years to come.

    Twitter can be used by teacher educators to connect candidates and graduates to current research on best practices. It allows programs to highlight innovative initiatives, partnerships, and accomplishments. Twitter can be used to help to maintain contact with alumni and families. It can also serve as a way to keep connected to PK-12 educators, many of whom use Twitter for professional purposes. On the policy front, faculty and administrators can engage in political debate as well as model and teach candidates how to be informed and advocate for themselves and their profession.

    To help facilitate teacher educators’ engagement on Twitter, we are hosting a series of AACTE webinars, which members can join live or view in a recorded archive. The first webinar, “Twitter 101 for Leaders in Educator Preparation,” occurred May 27 and included 81 participants. The webinar provided a rationale for using Twitter, an explanation of the basics of how Twitter functions, and examples of eight different uses of Twitter in teacher education. Video of the webinar and the presentation slides use are available here.

    The two remaining webinars are scheduled as follows (details to come!):

    • How to Use Twitter With Teacher Candidates — Tuesday, September 29, 1:00 p.m. EDT
    • Educator Preparation Programs Taking Twitter to the Next Level — Thursday, November 5, 1:00 p.m. EST

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    Scott Morrison

    Assistant Professor of Education, Elon University

    Jeff Carpenter

    Assistant Professor of Education and Director of the Teaching Fellows Program, Elon University

    Michael Maher

    Assistant Dean for Professional Education and Accreditation, North Carolina State University

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