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  • Technology in Literacy Ed

Social Media and Education Blogs: What’s Useful in Today’s Classrooms

by Joan Rhodes
May 16, 2014

Each time I get an email from Dr. Julie Coiro, the organizer and leader of the International Reading Association's Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG) article efforts, I get excited. I can’t wait to see what the next group of authors will target as part of the “Technology in Literacy Education” segment of Reading Today Online. What is even more exciting is the moment when the e-mail arrives that shows it’s my turn to contribute to this growing body of information for literacy educators. This opportunity is both exhilarating and a bit daunting as I begin to think of my assignment to share helpful blogs and the many excellent teacher education blogs available to highlight in my article.

Teach 100 image

I typically begin my work by reviewing the “best teacher blogs” through several sources. Scholastic, Edublog, and Education World, among others, offer great lists of notable education blogs to assist readers as they begin to consider using blog information as part of their personal professional development activities. Of more recent interest has been Teach 100, a daily ranking of the top 100 education blogs. Teach 100 evaluates blogs using four weighted criteria:    

  1. Social (40%): Engagement based on shares in social media spaces including Facebook, Twitter, and Stumble Upon and the number of shares pointing back to the 10 most recent posts and main area of interest
  2. Activity (20%): The frequency of blog updates
  3. Authority (20%): Authority and influence based on the number of sites linking to the blog
  4. Teach score (20%): The only subjective measure in the rating system which addresses the use of media in the blog, the timeliness of content and how it is discussed, the ability of the blog to inform, and the overall blog presentation (Teach 100, 2014)

What is interesting about this rating system? Look closely! How does this weighting match or contradict your own ideas related to what makes a quality education blog? A full 40% of the rating is based on the social engagement of others in the reading experience. One might ask whether popularity is an indicator of blog quality and if so, should it be weighted at this level? 

The Teach 100 rating system is indicative of one of the fast trends outlined in the 2014 New Media Consortium Horizon Report and the continuing impact of social media on the way quality of content is judged by the reading public. Horizon fast trends are projected to drive change in higher education within the next one to two years, but one might argue that this trend has already hit the mainstream with a vengeance. The Horizon Report notes that “As social networks continue to flourish, educators are using them as professional communities of practice, as learning communities, and as a platform to share interesting stories about topics students are studying in class. Understanding how social media can be leveraged for social learning is a key skill for teachers…” (Johnson, Adams-Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014, p. 8).  Becoming involved in the educational blogosphere is one way teachers can begin to drive the discussion of what is important in today’s classrooms and leverage social media to influence educational policy.

As you continue to consider educational blogs for your own learning needs, you might test the credibility of the Teach 100 ratings, by checking out one of the top blogs listed today! (Number 3, Edutopia, definitely deserves a look.)

Joan RhodesJoan Rhodes is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Reading Program at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

References

Teach 100. (2014, May).  About teach100.  Retrieved from http://teach.com/about-teach100

Johnson, L., Adams-Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

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