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A Decade of Research on K-12 Teaching and Teacher Learning with Social Media: Insights on the State of the Field


by Christine Greenhow, Sarah M. Galvin, Diana L. Brandon & Emilia Askari - 2020

Background and Context: The increasingly widespread use of social media to expand one’s social connections is a relatively new but important phenomenon that has implications for teaching, learning, and teachers’ professional knowledge and development in the 21st century. Educational research in this area is expanding, but further investigation is necessary to better determine how to best support teachers in their professional development, collaboration, and classroom teaching. Prior literature reviews have focused extensively on higher education settings or particular platforms or platform types (e.g., Facebook, microblogging). This article provides needed insights into K–12 settings and encompasses work from a variety of social media types. We describe a systematic review of more than a decade of educational research from various countries to present the state of the field in K–12 teachers’ use of social media for teaching and professional learning across various platforms.

Research Questions: To define social media’s potentially beneficial roles in teaching and learning, we must first take an in-depth look at teachers’ current social media practices. Toward this end, we approached our review with the following research question: How are social media perceived and used by K–12 teachers for their teaching or professional learning, and with what impacts on teachers’ practices?

Research Design: Guided by Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) established standards for rigor and quality in systematic literature reviews, this article reviews empirical research to examine how social media are perceived and used by K–12 teachers with what impacts on teachers’ practices.

Findings: We find that social media features offer several benefits for helping teachers fulfill their goals for classroom teaching, including enhancing student engagement, community connections, and teacher–student interactions, but these affordances come with challenges that must be navigated. The literature also suggests that social media features provide benefits for teachers’ professional learning within both formal professional development programs and informal learning networks.

Conclusions: Implications of this literature review for future research and the design of educational practices are discussed in the final section. Among our conclusions are calls for more data triangulation between teachers’ and students’ learning and experiences on social media, more attention to teachers’ observational behaviors on social media, and further exploration of how social media facilitates interplay between teachers’ formal and informal learning.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 122 Number 6, 2020, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23303, Date Accessed: 8/6/2020 1:09:57 PM

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About the Author
  • Christine Greenhow
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    CHRISTINE GREENHOW, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Educational Psychology & Educational Technology program at Michigan State University. She studies various forms of learning with social media, the design of social-mediated environments for learning, and changes in scholarship practices with new media. Recent publications and projects can be found at http://www.cgreenhow.org.
  • Sarah Galvin
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    SARAH GALVIN is a PhD student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program at Michigan State University. Her research interests surround the intersection of social media and writer identity in adolescent learning. More specifically, she looks at how student authorship differs on social media compared with in the classroom and what implications this might have for writing pedagogy. She has an in-press publication in the Teachers College Record Yearbook with colleagues from the #Cloud2Class conference entitled “Teaching ‘Against’ Social Media: Confronting Problems of Profit in the Curriculum” and an upcoming coauthored chapter in Educational Networking: A Novel Discipline for Improved K–12 Learning Based on Social Networks, describing a literature review of teachers’ use of social media for educational networking.
  • Diana Brandon
    Charleston Southern University
    E-mail Author
    DIANA L. BRANDON is an alumna of the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program at Michigan State University. She currently is the distance learning coordinator at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina. Her research interests include technology integration in K–12 and higher education and professional development for teachers and higher education personnel. Her recent work includes a brief paper presented at SITE 2019, “Not Your Mother’s Professional Development: A Flexible Approach to Faculty PD” and a coauthored article in Written Communication, “Multidimensional Levels of Language Writing Measures in Grades Four to Six.”
  • Emilia Askari
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    EMILIA ASKARI is a PhD student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program at Michigan State University, a lecturer at the University of Michigan, and a former journalist at the Detroit Free Press. Her research interests include social media, education, and journalism. She was the recent lead author of “Youth, Learning and Social Media in K–12 Education: The State of the Field,” published in the proceedings of the International Society of the Learning Sciences.
 
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