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Study: New teachers lack training in social media

PHOENIX — Teachers across the nation are struggling with social media, a survey said.

The University of Phoenix study of about 1,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers said that teachers are having issues with how to connect with parents and teachers on social networks. The survey said that less than one-third of the teachers have received training on how to use social media to connect with their students or as an educational tool.

“That’s why only 17 percent of K-12 teachers encourage their students to connect with them through social media, and only 18 percent of them integrate it into their classrooms,” said Kathy Cook, director of educational technology with the University of Phoenix’s College of Education.

The survey said that less than one-third of new teachers receive training on how to use social media in the classroom and, because of that lack of training, most are avoiding its use altogether.

But that’s not the only problem. Cook said many teachers are concerned about being able to separate their social media accounts in their business and professional lives and it’s an easy problem to solve if they use the options presented to that.

“They may only want to use Facebook for their personal use, and LinkedIn to communicate with educational professionals,” she said.

Teachers are also fearful of parents using social media to spy on their private lives.

Despite about 80 percent using social media for personal reasons, the study said many teachers see the benefit of using social media but are unsure how to go about integrating it in the classroom. Cook had some advice.

Cook suggested that Twitter is a good way for teachers to update students and parents and Skype can be very useful in class.

“Now you can go out and find the authors of the books that you’re reading in class and invite those authors into the classroom through technology tools,” she said.

Cook said social media can be a great addition to the classroom, and she encourages teachers to familiarize themselves with all of the online platforms.