In the United States, teachers are expected to analyze data to inform instruction and improve student learning. Despite investments in data tools, researchers find that teachers often interact with data visualizations in limited ways. Researchers have called for data interpretation training for preservice teachers to increase teachers’ interactions with data visualizations, but training alone may not be enough to spur pedagogical insights. Research suggests that helping teachers build personal connections with data may foster their own agency. However, little is known about how to provide agency-developing experiences for teachers more efficiently that respect both the time and resource constraints that teachers face in their daily work. This article presents a design experiment that explored whether giving preservice teachers the choice of which data to visualize impacted their connections with data. When compared with a control group who were not offered the chance of choosing their data (but only received data interpretation training), the authors found that participants who experienced the agency intervention reported a deeper connection with the underlying meanings of educational data. This intervention provides foundational evidence that facilitating agency-developing experiences may help educators to develop deeper sensemaking about educational data.
Some K-12 social media celebrities, or influencers, have begun to enact influence at a massive scale, possibly shaping the teachers who follow them, while seeking individual profit in the process. In this qualitative study, the authors explored the content edu-influencers share on Instagram, which is an understudied yet increasingly popular social media site, where influencer culture runs rampant. The authors coded publicly available Instagram posts (n = 310) and stories (n = 115) shared by 18 influencers comprising the popular and racially diverse K-12 collaborative, Teach Your Heart Out™. They observed activity across 4 weeks during the 2019 back-to-school season. Edu-influencers’ content encompassed four themes: promoting products and themselves, motivating teachers, soliciting engagement, and advocating for classroom approaches. On one hand, edu-influencers sometimes facilitated teacher networking, provided motivational messages for teachers, shared resources with teachers, provided authentic examples of classroom practice, and promoted social justice orientations. However, some influencers’ activity was overwhelmingly promotional, lacked thoughtful explanation, or missed an opportunity for connection to critical social issues. Findings shed light on the phenomenon of educator influencer culture, highlighting the need for critical digital literacies among teachers who use social media for professional purposes.
Developing, sustaining, and improving student engagement is of vital importance to higher education instructors. Educational technology has been linked to student engagement, and preservice and in-service teachers need to develop information communication and technology (ICT) skills and knowledge to apply them in the classroom as well as to develop ICT skills in students. Thus, further investigation of this link in the field of education is needed. This narrative systematic review is a synthesis of 42 peer-reviewed articles from across four international databases, published between 2007-2016 and is a subset of a larger systematic review. The results indicate that the majority of research has been undertaken within undergraduate preservice teacher education, predominantly in the US, Hong Kong, and the UK, with limited attention given to grounding research in theory. This review found educational technology supports student engagement, with behavioral and affective being the most prevalent dimensions. Social networking tools (SNT), knowledge organization and sharing tools, text-based tools, and website creation tools were the most effective at promoting engagement. However, caution is needed when employing SNT and assessment tools, as they were also more likely to lead to disengagement. Further research is needed on how educational technology affects disengagement, how tools are used in online teacher education programs, and how to effectively integrate SNT in education programs.
Teacher educators have increasingly integrated social media into their education courses with aims including improving instruction and preparing students for a connected world. In this study, the authors sought to better understand the possibilities and challenges of scaffolding 60 pre- and in-service teachers across two universities into professional learning networks (PLNs) through a social media assignment. Participants analyzed educator practices, participated in, and envisioned future uses of teacher Twitter. Consistent with previous studies, education students were positive about the relational and relevant aspects of Twitter use. However, students’ participation did not mimic the participatory cultures of affinity spaces often reported by connected educators in the literature. Instead, participants tweeted around deadlines and quit using their accounts for professional education purposes once the class ended. In contrast to recent literature, this article argues that social media integration for education students should focus on relational and relevant engagements and content, as opposed to attempting to build social media augmented PLNs for unknown futures.