April 12, 2018


With hectic scheduling and constant teaching demands, teachers are turning to social media to meet urgent professional learning needs.

Brendon Hyndman, Charles Sturt University

Teachers are very busy workers with tightly packed schedules and regular engagement in work outside regular hours (such as for preparing lessons and marking). They have less time for breaks and over 30% spend more than 50 hours a week on teaching activities.

On top of busy schedules, teachers are required to undertake professional development and learning to improve their teaching practices. Professional development can involve substantial time, planning, travel, conference costs, or attending a presentation or workshop.

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) specifies teachers are required to identify, plan, engage in and apply professional learning to improve their teaching and, subsequently, their students’ learning. Engaging in professional development has been earmarked by the OECD to be a major strategy to prevent teachers leaving the profession.

Teachers have reported needing avenues to enhance emotional support, resources and relationships to develop their resilience, identity and prevent isolation.

With hectic scheduling and constant teaching demands, teachers are turning to social media to meet these needs.

Read more:
Australian teachers get fewer training days than in other countries and turn to online courses for support

Teachers turning to Twitter

There is a growing trend of teachers using Twitter to connect to a global network of educators to share and solve a wide range of educational problems.

Rather than a one-off professional learning event (such as a conference), Twitter provides a low-cost, easy to access platform. It requires little effort beyond 280 character posts or photos to connect with a range of education professionals, leaders and organisations.

Twitter has become a significant resource for teachers to find, share, learn from and use information for the professional benefit of themselves and their students.


What does research tell us?

A survey of 755 teachers in the US asked how and why teachers are using Twitter. It found teachers valued Twitter’s personalised, immediate nature and the positive professional collaborations it can encourage. Teachers reported Twitter can be used to combat teaching isolation – a problem for many teachers that can result in burnout and/or teachers leaving the profession.

For many teachers, Twitter-based professional learning can be superior to more traditional methods. The reach of communication across the world is broad and teachers can easily select appropriate resources for themselves.


Some 324 teachers from 22 countries were surveyed via Twitter to determine their use of, access to, and perceptions of Twitter. It found teachers think Twitter can help build relationships with other teachers and help them self-direct their professional development by selecting resources for themselves based on their needs. Teachers described greater access to multiple conferences and online learning posts or discussions where they don’t have to be physically present.

Teachers are learning about the latest and best teaching practices, lesson plans, web resources, and innovative ideas for the classroom. Some even receive invitations to present at conferences or are given lucrative grants. Significant relationships have even been found between teachers’ professional use of Twitter and improved technology abilities.

Read more:
Students struggle with digital skills because their teachers lack confidence

Due to the convenient nature of Twitter, it could be assumed that teachers would only achieve surface-level learning. But analysis of 2,125 interactions show Twitter can also encourage a community of practice to support changes to teaching over time.

For example, the study highlights how Twitter has been used to develop teachers’ competence in using a specific teaching model – cooperative learning.

This was done by sharing how the model can be used, sharing valuable resources with teachers and providing continual feedback on the delivery of the teaching ideas. In turn, this developed sustained capabilities of a teaching department.

In another study of 160 teachers from the US, 90% of respondents said they were extremely likely to use Twitter for professional development in the following six months. Almost 70% reported their use of Twitter for professional learning would increase over the following school year.

There has even been a rolling Twitter conversation on game-based teaching. The conversation included teachers from 18 countries, lasted 12 hours, involved 12 posts per person with a reach of almost 120,000 people.

Other research of the Twitter hashtag #educattentats recognised 3,598 unique users and over 5,500 posts from across the world within 28 days.



Twitter provides a modern platform for teachers to share, network, gain emotional support, build professional learning communities and make a contribution to their profession.

Because Twitter-based professional development is self-directed, it can be used to connect to each teacher’s individual needs to fill gaps whenever they appear.

Twitter has even been recognised as a recommended form of professional development by a school leadership association in the US.

The ConversationTwitter is providing a platform to offer school leaders further opportunities to develop their audiences and influences. At the same time, it provides a voice to teachers who can find it difficult to connect with others beyond the confines of the classroom.

Brendon Hyndman, Senior Lecturer and Course Director of Postgraduate Studies in Education, Charles Sturt University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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  • Well that’s a bit of a worry. Are they just being lazy maybe?


  • What happened to
    Old style teaching when there was no social media or Mr google to consult why are we relying on these now when before they didn’t exist


  • It’s really only a problem if Twitter is the ONLY learning avenue they have.


  • I know for a fact that teachers take pupils’ assignments, homework etc home at weekends to “mark”. I spent a lot of time with a girl was the same age as me but at a different school to the one her Mum taught at. I often went there before my friend and I went to netball together. We played in the same team on Saturday afternoons. Off season we would meet up with another friend and go bicycle riding or take one of the other girls’ siblings to the the playground and give their Mum time to do chores which were harder to do with little ones wanting to hang onto her. She often did sewing or ironing while we minded them. 2 of the little ones had skin allergies and had to wear 100% cotton, not cotton blend or straight synthetic fabrics at all. She had to use specific laundry powder that didn’t contain strong chemicals in it at all. They had to be bathed using a special preparation, not soap.


  • Social media if used well is indeed a helpful platform for careers and advice.


  • That Twitter is providing a platform to offer school leaders further opportunities to develop their audiences and influences, sounds good. And I can imagine it’s a positive thing for teachers to connect, but at the same time this should not replace normal social contacts. And by the sound of it, teachers have little time for social contacts with their long working hours, which doesn’t sound healthy.


  • I’m a teacher and whilst I don’t use twitter I don’t find social media such as Facebook really useful for networking, finding out about PD opportunities etc.


  • The teachers I know complain about all the bureaucracy that takes up their time. Surely more admin staff can be hired to relieve teachers of some of the burden.


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