These are the preliminary findings of a survey I conducted on behalf of the Australian Science Teachers Association into teachers’ use of Social Media. The survey was conducted using Zoomerang.com from 27 May – 28 June 2011. The survey was launched during a workshop at CONSTAWA, the annual conference of the Science Teachers Association of Western Australia. It was advertised on the ASTA Twitter and Facebook accounts, through the ASTARIX email list, and through state Science teacher Association (STA) email lists. The invitation to participate was addressed widely to ‘educators involved in any way in science education in Australian schools’. 158 respondents completed the survey, and a further 10 partially completed it. All responses are included in the analysis.
Half of the respondents identified themselves as specialist Science teachers, with the remainder being generalist teachers, specialists in other areas, administrators and academics. 54% of the respondents were teachers in state schools, 21% in independent schools and 13% in catholic schools. Respondents were broadly distributed across the age ranges and from all states and territories in Australia. 64% of the respondents were members of their state or territory Science Teacher Associations, either as a personal member or through their school. The survey represented a wealth of experience in the teaching profession, with 44% of the respondents identifying themselves as having 21 or more years experience.
This presentation shows the data from the survey:
- Email is the most widely used online tool, but YouTube is used to a significant extent by respondents in their personal and professional lives.
- Teachers, like students, consult YouTube and Wikipedia when they are doing research
- Other than Email, respondents report negligible use of online tools for interaction with students.
- YouTube and Email are used by over 50% of respondents in their teaching. Wikipedia and Moodle are also used by a significant number of respondents. The use of Twitter, Skype and Facebook among respondents in their teaching was negligible.
- 36 percent of respondents reported having a Twitter account and 25% reported having a blog. Only half provided their Twitter names and blog URL in the optional responses.
- Few respondents to the survey reported using Facebook for anything other than keeping in touch with family and friends.
- Elluminate (now known as Blackboard Collaborate) is by far the best known of the Virtual Classroom technologies.
- Only about 20% of respondents indicated that they had experience using Moodle.
- Respondents indicated general satisfaction with the level of restriction placed on student access to social media tools in school time.
- 63% of respondents indicated an interest in using web conferencing for professional learning and networking. In answer to the same question the level of interest for Moodle was 48%, Twitter 36% and Facebook 33%.
Future investigations and implications for teacher Professional Learning from this survey
- It would be helpful to examine data from other surveys to find out to what extent the results of this survey differ from the data available on social media use and attitudes among educators in other countries, and in other sectors of the Australian community.
- The survey seems to indicate that teachers are receptive to learning about the use of web 2.0 tools in their teaching and professional activity, but at present they do not have the knowledge, time or motivation to move to implementation. It is likely that if at least one of those three things (knowledge, time, motivation) and preferably all three can be found, we will observe significant change in this area.
- Teachers report using YouTube extensively in their personal and professional use of the internet. Clearly provision of professional learning in Video form should be pursued as a priority.
- A flaw in the design of this survey was the lack of clarity around attitudes to student use of social media tools in school time. Most respondents expressed satisfaction with their schools’ current policies in this area, but the question was not designed to allow correlation with these attitudes and the liberality, or otherwise, of the policy.
- A replication of key elements of this survey in 18-24 months time will provide useful data on any changes in attitudes and use of social media and web 2.0 tools by Australian teachers involved in Science.