Monday, 3 December 2007

How do you get teachers involved in social media?

This question haunts me, especially because most of the people are not jumping up and down for change. So somehow, somewhere you must be as cunning as the pied piper and luer them into the joy of social media and participative learning.

I am very lucky because ITM has teachers who relish in interactive courses, but as soon as the term ‘IT’ or ‘wiki’ is dropped, their entusiasm melts like snow underneath the sun. So I knew most of the teachers were behind the idea of social media, but were scared of the technical part.

During the last months some tactics have proven to be useful:
- Give open sessions on new media you will be using. Up until now I made those sessions as followed:
° introduction with a fun movie/cartoon/related picture. The introduction is immediately linked to questions I heard them utter around the water cooler;
° each session does not take longer than 20 minutes and is planned on several lunch time moments (different days to cater to as many as possible);
° the session has two parts: a theoretical one and a practical one. The practical part is co-given by a person in the institute that has had some experience with that specific media (hence making it clear that not only computer savy people work with it - personel sometimes sees me as computer savy, thus not capable of knowing what is simple or not)
° a follow up with mails and motivations for the ones that want to dive into this media.

Although there is not always an immediate respons to the open question to do something with the proposed media, I have noticed that after personel has read an article about it or has encountered a peer that was talking about that specific media, they will pick up that tool. So … I guess patience is a good thing.

- teachers will use any kind of technology enhanced teaching (given its userfriendlyness) as long as it has a familiar ring to it (joint documents, open collaborative writing…) I just stopped using the jargon.
- Get everyone involved in the reshaping of the learning environment. Get teachers to express their ideas (in the online collaborative document - ahum wiki right). Incorporate their ideas;
- Ask teachers to help you out with a digital application (really, ask them, they will look for an answer and in the meanwhile get interested);
- Give lots of attention to anyone that is willing to go ahead and try something new (I write it down in the institutes newsletter), others will talk to the ‘pioneers’ and soon ask you (around the water cooler) if they cannot start something similar;
- At any given stage of trying out something new, ask for feedback (not the written one, just ask them while you are adopting an application and write it down yourself);
- Ask teachers to look for tools and send them to you. Even if you know them, if you did not tell it to others, let the teacher that came up with the tool get the credit. This is a definite motivator.
- Bit by bit a community of practice is growing between teachers. For the most part it is still face to face, but some of them get a bit hungry for digital exchange of knowledge.

So it is a long process, but a fruitful one because slowly but surely more people get interested.

but ... sometimes, it just does not work...