Using Social Media to Support Professional Development in Higher Ed

Professional Development, Work/Life Balance
Reading Time: 3 minutes

As college institutions move quickly to adopt new tools and methods for distance learning in response to COVID-19, in-person professional development opportunities have become scarce. Nearly all of today’s college educators use one form of social media or another, making its ability to supplement professional growth and training more important than ever.

Here are just some of the many ways that educators can use popular social media networks cost-free to extend professional learning and become more proficient and confident about teaching in a fully digital environment.

Social Media Professional Development Tips for College Educators

Facebook

The world’s largest social network excels as a conversation hub for influencers and organizations, and it offers an array of tools for public and private group collaboration.

  • Like or follow pages for authors, professional development experts and organizations so that their posts show up often in your newsfeed.
  • Search for your school or subject area to find groups where you can connect with other educators, or consider starting a group of your own.
  • Watch for events or Facebook Live opportunities from organizations and individual educators.
  • Be sure to fully read the comment threads on popular posts to get other educators’ perspectives and find trending content.

Twitter

Dominating the world of real-time information and opinion sharing for brands and individuals, Twitter has become an essential tool for following and responding to current events.

  • Follow authors, training/development experts or organizations—use the Lists feature to keep track of your favorites or use a Twitter monitoring tool, many of which are free for individuals and educators.
  • Watch or join one of the Twitter chats and hashtags for higher education—here’s a handy Twitter Directory from Inside Higher Ed.
  • Like tweets and articles to keep track of the ones that you want to come back to later.
  • Search for the URL of any news or blog article to see who has shared it and what other users are saying about it.
  • Use Advanced Search and set the date range plus keywords or hashtags to recall the entire conversation for a past conference or event, even if you didn’t attend.

LinkedIn

When you prefer a more professional tone and user base, LinkedIn offers a host of tools for everything from status updates and personal blogging to team collaboration and self-paced learning.

  • Join groups or follow hashtags for educators, such as #HigherEducation or #OnlineLearning.
  • Create updates in educators’ groups or add comments to posts to join the conversation.
  • Write your own blog-style articles to record your views and ideas—share them in any relevant groups that you’ve joined.
  • Add your presentations to SlideShare for easy public sharing, or browse content from others.
  • Collaborate or discuss learning privately with colleagues using the Teammates feature.

YouTube

As the world’s leading video platform for over a decade, YouTube is a powerful and flexible option for posting, editing and sharing video content of all lengths and types.

  • Search for tips on specific teaching topics, methods or concepts—set up playlists (public or private) to create video collections for watching later or sharing with colleagues.
  • Subscribe to the channels of professional organizations, authors and other educators.
  • Upload your own lectures or resources to share with colleagues or students—just be mindful of copyright issues that even apply to educational content. Make sure to add subtitles and closed captions to help make your videos accessible for everyone.

Instagram

With a focus on photos and short videos as well as ongoing collections of media (i.e. stories), Instagram is driven by compelling visuals and narratives.

  • Search for educational or course-related term hashtags like #StudentSuccess or #ProfessorsOfInstagram—follow the ones that you find to be helpful and/or use them in your own posts.
  • Search for and follow influential or interesting accounts including organizations, authors, speakers and other educators.
  • Create posts or stories about your own experiences to invite other users to give feedback.

For more insights you can use to bolster your own development as a college educator, visit our Professional Development page on Today’s Learner.