Your Ed Tech Brand – Teacher as an influencer.

1380965427_teacherIt would seem a new blogging schedule is starting to emerge. This going to school thing is forcing me to sit down with a glass of Shiraz in hand and hammer out a new blog post every Friday night. Not that I am complaining… I love Shiraz and I love Blogging, so here goes.

This weeks instalment is all about online identities and how it plays out as a connected educator. Bonnie Stewart dropped in as our guest moderator for this weeks #tiegrad class and shared some of her thoughts on what I found to be a riveting topic.

You can find out more about Bonnie and her Dissertation here: Scholars In The Open: Networked Identities Vs Institutional Identities

The discussion generated some very interesting questions about the ramifications of being a networked educator. For better or worse, teachers now have access to extraordinarily powerful tools with which to share their ideas and opinions about education. As a result, classroom teachers are  changing the landscape of education in a way we have never seen before.

It was a discussion that went far beyond the usual spiel of  “thou shalt not post pictures of your drunken escapades in Aruba last Christmas”  It was a discussion about the consequences of letting a schmuck teacher such as myself, influence others in a way that was virtually impossible just a few short years ago.

This discussion was so interesting because it was about ME! I am living proof of the power of being a connected educator. Two(ish) years ago, I was just some guy who worked with at-risk kids. My influence hardly went beyond the confines of the staff room and even then my influence was negligible. The only reason my existence mattered was that I took up space around the lunch table. Then along came a my blog and a twitter account and whether it be warranted or not, all of a sudden I had influence that reached far beyond the small confines of our staff room.

Although I kinda realized it before, yesterday’s class got me thinking about my responsibility as a connected educator.

The questions we looked at revolved around the ramifications of being a connected teacher. What are my responsibilities and who should I answer to? We also got into how networked teachers are disrupting the traditional power structures in education and what the consequences could be?

These are the questions that frame what Stewart referred to as “Identities for a new ethos”. If I remember correctly, she also said it is a world for which societal norms have not yet been formed and as such we can sometimes get situations that look a wee bit like the Wild West where there is no Marshall in town to keep the gun slinging at bay…  I paraphrase

Here are the significant questions I went away with. Anyone who has been following me for any length of time, will be able to figure out my answer to each so I would LOVE for you to chime in with your own answers to these questions. If you have a second please leave a comment and share your opinions/answers.

Questions to ponder for the connected teacher

What is the teachers place in the this new interconnected world?

How vocal should a teacher be on a social network?

Should connected teachers be expected to parrot their their school district’s party line?

Where is the line, how edgy or outspoken can a teacher be without being open to discipline?

Should your online identity stray from the person you are in the classroom?

Does a strong online presence threaten existing educational power structures and is that ok?



  1. Bon

    Keith…so glad the session resonated for you and went deep enough to be interesting. I’ve been thinking about it since: the point you raised about how being connected changes one’s capacity to influence the system one’s in is a big part of my research, but I’ve been calling it by different names. Now I’m wondering if it isn’t influence itself I should be focusing on…so thanks very much for planting that seed!

    1. Post

      Hey Bonnnie, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog post, I am moved to know you found it useful. The power of having influence I suppose 😉

      It is an important topic and hashing out what it means to you me and everyone else who plays on a social network as a professional, is important work.

      Good luck!

  2. Reema Faris

    “Should connected teachers be expected to parrot their their school district’s party line?Where is the line, how edgy or outspoken can a teacher be without being open to discipline?”

    No, I don’t think a teacher or an employee should be expected to parrot their school district’s or employer’s party line — if there is such a thing as a party line. However, I do think there is a point where the use (or abuse) of social media may cross a boundary although I’m not yet prepared to say where that boundary might be — I haven’t had enough time to process what you’ve written nor to think about this issue specifically.

    I would say that if a teacher or an employee had a problem with either their administration, their District leadership, their company, or their Board, posting rants on social media may not be the best starting point to working through the issue. There should always be a just and fair process in place to adjudicate issues which may arise and running to social media — or to traditional media for that matter — first may not be the best approach to conflict resolution.

    Another thought-provoking post and definitely points to the need for discussion and dialogue on this topic.

    Thanks for putting it out there.

    1. Post

      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond Reema.

      I think you are correct in your assessment of the two questions you addressed.

      I too agree that as long as the the public face of ones opinion does not take the form of a slanderous rant, then express away.

      The problem lies in how that opinion is received. Regardless of how “correct” a teacher may be, if their public opinion sheds those who are in power in a bad light, said teacher is still at risk of getting spanked.

      I would like to think however; that in today’s world, this kind of pushback is simply part of an entrenched process rather than any kind of a punitive payback mechanism. In the instance where such action is punitive, teachers fortunately have a bit of protection as they can turn to the organizational power of their union to back them but could this protected voice be in danger?

      My concern is that the movement to dismantle public school systems in favour of private or charter systems, will effectively squash the brilliant new voice of the “schmuck” common teacher. A teacher working in a privatized model would HAVE to parrot the party line or find themselves out on their ear.

      Just a thought!

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