San Francisco is considered the global epicenter of technological innovation, yet most schools in the city lack basic hardware and infrastructure to prepare students to work in these companies.
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) EdTech Department works to offer resources to teachers and administrators to better integrate technology and to engage students in real-world, authentic learning experiences that promote college and career readiness. It’s for this reason that I proposed that we harness the power of social media by offering a class about Twitter — at Twitter!
Image used with permission of Mario Piombo, SFUSD
On May 14, Twitter’s head of community affairs Caroline Barlerin (@cbarlerin) hosted 25 SFUSD administrators and leaders to provide teachers the tools to teach, and students to learn, to create the workforce of the future. As one of my colleagues, Karen Claxton, said, “Sometimes as teachers in a classroom, we feel so isolated from the outside world. We are supposed to teach students to be prepared for the future, yet really don’t know what it ‘looks’ like from a business point of view. Visiting and receiving training at a 21st century workspace makes me feel more in tune with what students should expect in the workforce. “
Another goal the teachers had: to learn how to create and grow their personal learning network (PLN). Facilitator Sergio Villegas from NapaLearns shared why Twitter is important for developing a PLN. “Learning can happen so much faster when it is self directed, engaging and done with a network that is always on.” Educators around the world connect to share resources and best practices. In fact, this kind of learning happens via #EdChats every Sunday evening!
Administrators also learned how to use Twitter to capture and tell their school’s story to parents and their communities. Principal Rosina Tong from the Chinese Immersion School uses Twitter to “keep my school community updated with events at school” and to “learn from like-minded professionals.” Another principal, Victor Tam, said he’s “planning on using TweetDeck to explore professional interests that connect me with the entire world of relevant hashtags.”
It is apparent that Twitter can be a powerful tool in education. SFUSD is excited to grow our partnership with Twitter and find new ways to engage both educators and students in using social media. We left Twitter thankful for the opportunity to learn — and so motivated that many started a school Twitter account to share the great work of their students with their community and a global audience.
Michele Dawson is the San Francisco Unified School District EdTech Supervisor.