Kelly, N., & Antonio, A. (2016). Teacher peer support in social network sites. Teaching and Teacher Education, 56, 138-149.
This article reports on a study in relation to the value of social networks for teachers and the teaching community. Initially, Kelly and Antonio explore what kind of support teachers need and how such face-to-face support may be different from online support. Citing Clarke et al. (2014) the authors identify the following roles teachers play within a support framework: providers of feedback, modellers of practice, supporters of reflection, agents of relationships, agents of socialisation and advocates of the practical.
The authors introduce their exploration of an open facebook group over a period of 12 weeks. The data collection and analysis covered two phases, with phase two being used to analyse repeatability. The data was collected from open groups.
Teachers use social networks to connect, to socialise, and for practical advice. Interestingly, teachers appeared reluctant to ask for advice on social networks, though. The authors found that the posts were largely that: posts, responses and comments and not so much questions or queries. The authors suggest that direct messaging and private groups may be used more for questioning. The authors also discuss whether the established form of communication on social networks is responding so that questions would go against that convention. What the study shows is that teachers use social networks for professional development and debates and as such their value should be formally recognised.
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