Educator Use of Social Networking Lags Behind Interest
The final results of an extensive nationwide survey on educator use of social networking (PDF) were published last week, and it appears that more than six educators in ten are at least interested enough in the growing medium to register on one or more sites. What this will mean in the long run for the impact of social networking on education, however, is far less clear.
The survey, sponsored by educational networking site edWeb.net, mailing list and database firm MCH, and education marketing research firm MMS Education, was sent to 83,000 educators throughout the United States in August and September, including teachers, school librarians, and administrators. Preliminary results released in September showed a majority of those surveyed who joined a social networking had, in fact, only joined Facebook. But a substantial number of those who expressed interest in social networking as a tool for education and educational community building said they would eagerly embrace the idea of a social networking site primarily geared toward educators.
The path from expressed interest to active interest, though, is apparently not so clear. One telling figure from the final tally is that, of those surveyed who have joined either Facebook or a similar site, only about one-fourth of them actually use the site on even a semi-regular basis. The implication seems to be that, although many were curious about the social networking as a communications medium, and some even had the best of intentions to use the site(s) they joined to meet other teachers, discuss and share ideas, and communicate with students and parents, a relatively small number actually followed through.
A spokesperson for the research team explained that educators who offered anecdotal insights into the situation suggested that factors inhibiting the growth of this technology in educational settings, including major privacy concerns, schools/districts that block access to these Web sites, and time pressure.
The complete results and accompanying report can be downloaded as a PDF here.
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.