Hashtags, Social Media, and UDL in Teacher Preparation
A few months ago, CIDDL hosted a webinar with Stefanie McCoy and Krystal Merry, where they discussed Netnography, an innovative qualitative research method that explores digital communication. One activity they shared was having their pre-service teachers try out activities, lessons, and projects from education-based TikToks. They also discussed how they use hashtags within their research to look for common themes and use that as their data. But, how else can hashtags be used in teacher preparation?
Universal Design for Learning and Choice in “Readings”
Student choice is an important aspect of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which is often hard to provide when you are trying to find resources that relate to your course goals. If you want all your students to receive the same background information, how can you give choice?
Twitter chats for educators have existed for years. These are great opportunities for pre-service educators to both consume and contribute to ongoing and current professional development and topics surrounding education. Using hashtags, university professors have made chats specific to their courses, and expanded to using popular hashtags, such as #UDLChat , which provides “live” conversations on hot-topics the first and third Wednesday of the months, and #EdTechChat, which “meets” every Monday. These are just a sampling of the Twitter Chats that exist for educators. There are countless others, some of which can be found on ISTE’s list.
Providing pre-service educators the opportunity to participate in these chats, illustrates several of the UDL principles, including recruiting interest, comprehension, and use of multiple modes of media for communication. Beyond providing them access to the content that you are trying to teach, you are giving them the opportunity to engage with in-service teachers and promoting the expectation for continued professional development, through informal means.
What if there was a way to have all of your students watch videos on the same topic, tailored to more of their specific teaching settings and/or interests? There is. On YouTube, teacher-tubers using variations on the hashtag TeacherTag answer the same questions from their own perspective. For example, #PandemicTeacherTag includes videos of teachers talking about the impact the pandemic had on their classrooms and their teaching. How I Became a Teacher tag videos answer questions about what drew teachers to their classrooms and #iTeachToo discusses “day in the life” type questions.
Unpacking these videos provides your pre-service teachers with opportunities to learn about the current climate in real classrooms from in-service teachers. This means that in a pre-service teacher classroom, where variability exists in desired teaching positions, individuals are able to choose content related to their desired career outcomes while providing the same general idea.