Finding “Value” in Social Media as a School Leader

Over the past 2 years, those of us working on providing free, open resources for leaders to learn about the use of technology in their practice, have found that educators need to see VALUE before they will engage in learning new practices.

What is the value for education leaders in using social media such as Twitter?

Who better to answer that question but other leaders?

Recently, Marius Bourgeoys asked this question on Twitter.  Below are some of the answers he collected.

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The original document can be found here.

What reasons are missing? What can you contribute?

Why Our Students Need Digital Leaders

Why is it so essential that School and System Leaders are Connected Digital Leaders?  There are many reasons.  Below is a summary of a few of them.  At the bottom of this page you will find resources to further support your understanding of Connected Digital Leadership in Education.


Isolation is the Enemy of all Improvement  – Everyone we meet knows something we don’t.  Participating in open networks gives ideas opportunities to spread.  “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” is a concept explained by Chris Anderson in this TED Talk.  If we want to build innovative schools and systems, our leaders must be connected to the best ideas.

Educators who know how to self-direct their learning online with their peers from around the world, have access to all the best thinking, the best strategies, and the best conversations about how to help each and every child learn.


Digital citizenship is not something to be taught in isolation as a “subject”.

Digital citizenship is a way of being, to be integrated into all that we do (@TanyaAvrith).  The Alberta Teachers’ Association Report on the State of the Principalship in Canada showed that concerns around social media and cyberbullying were prevalent among Principals across Canada.

Every one of our students will be googled – how are we helping them create positive digital footprints for the future?  It is critical that our leaders have a full understanding of digital spaces to be able to model digital leadership for our students.  OSAPAC curates resources for educators here.


If you don’t understand the digital environment, you are becoming illiterate.  Doug Belshaw explains the essential elements of digital literacies in his TEDxTalk. We would never tolerate an illiterate leader in education in the traditional sense of “literacy”, and if we consider literacy to be the ability to communicate in particular contexts, today’s digital world needs digitally literate education leaders.


Our learning community exists in BOTH physical and digital spaces.

This quote from Dr. John Malloy, formerly the Director of Education for HWDSB (currently Ontario’s Chief Student Achievement Officer), reminds us of the critical importance of choosing leaders with the capacity to make great decisions about student learning in both physical and digital spaces:

Using technology is no longer an option for us.  We must support our students to succeed in our physical and digital world.  Students who do not have this opportunity to learn in the digital world will be disadvantaged, something that we cannot accept.”

Our learners, our audience and our community are in online spaces.  We need to be where they are.


“Isolation is inconsistent with professional practice.”

Catherine Montreuil, Director of Education, BGCDSB, August 2014

(Currently Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Education)

We can’t just “close the door and teach” any more.  The smartest person in the room is the room, unless someone in the room is a connected leader, and then it’s the world.  We need leaders who bring the world to their schools and districts.

“…. as capacity gets higher (which is certainly the case in Ontario), peers become the main source of innovation if you are to go from greatness to excellence.”

Michael Fullan

Great to Excellent: Launching the Next Stage of Ontario’s Education Agenda

How does a shift occur from a culture where learning is provided to a culture where learning is sought?

Today, it’s no longer about content.  It’s about networks. Our Principals and Superintendents are Lead Learners.  Leaders need to model networked learning for teachers and students.  Connected leaders demonstrate that networking (Education 3.0) is a priority. We need to show our students what our learning looks like.  We need to demonstrate to teachers how we learn.  We need to share our thinking, leave it open to conversations, and let it be questioned.

As leaders, our professional portfolios should be ePortfolios, online where we can model this practice for others, and demonstrating how our work aligns with the Leadership Framework.  George Couros has written about this extensively.

We have a moral imperative to share.

If there is no sharing, there is no learning.Live-tweeting at learning events is a great start, but why shouldn’t everyone could benefit from your learning?  When you share the learning on your blog, it becomes searchable to everyone.  Educators from around the world now have free access to that learning.If nobody shares, nobody learns!

Put Open and Access at the centre of your learning.

As a connected leader, you bring a world of learning to your practice.  If leaders aren’t learning online, how can they make good decisions around what technology to purchase with public funds, and what learning is required so the teachers can make effective use of technology for deep learning in their classrooms?

Leaders must be participating in “deep learning” so they can understand what that learning looks like, and they can make valid, essential decisions about how to spend funds and time that are critical to moving learning forward.

If leaders do not understand how technology can enable their learning to become a seamless part of their daily lives, they will not understand the importance of their students’ access to the tools for learning.If you are not a connected leader, there is no better time to start!  OSSEMOOC shows you how in 10 minutes a day.

The End Game Keeps Changing: What’s an Education Worth Having in 2015?

Getting better at old strategies won’t work.  An education worth having in 2015 is not the same as an education worth having in 2000.  If the world is changing faster than the school system, the school system is doing an excellent job of moving toward irrelevance.Here is some further thinking on this idea:

Connected Leaders Drive Student Achievement

Student achievement is impacted by connected leadership.  The connections are explained here.




How do we learn to become Connected (Digital) Leaders?


Connected Leadership in 2015-2016

30 Days to Getting Connected in 10 Minutes a Day: Start on Day 1 Here


Resources – What’s out there to support leaders? (A Mindomo Resource by Joe Russo, TELT TCDSB

Margaret Wheatley: Are you willing to be disturbed?

ISTE Standards for Administrators
How do we, as leaders, enable those in our ‘buildings’ to become connected educators?

Digital Leadership (Eric Sheniger – for purchase)

What is a Connected Educator?  (Tom Whitby)

Is Isolation in Education a Choice? (Tom Whitby)

Digital Leadership by @SylviaDuckworth and @JCasaTodd

From Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership – guest post by Jennifer Casa-Todd


Why Digital Leadership is Essential

Our teens and “tweens” are on social media – a lot!

Take a moment to watch the CBS summary of the MediaSmarts report on social media use by teens and tweens.

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CBS video on the MediaSmarts report can be found here:

Eric Sheninger says:

With society becoming more and more reliant on technology, it is incumbent upon leaders to harness the power of digital technologies in order to create school cultures that are transparent, relevant, meaningful, engaging, and inspiring.

Pillars of Digital Leadership, p.1

We can no longer ignore the fact that the world has changed, and schools that do a wonderful job of preparing our students for what the world was like in 1990 are no longer meeting the needs of our students in 2015.

School and system leaders must have strong competencies in digital literacies so that they can model the kind of learning that our students need.

In particular, our school and system leaders need a strong understanding of social media.

“Social media in all of its many forms and functions, is simply a tool to engage in conversations. In a sense, it levels the playing field by providing all leaders the same sandbox to play in. The resulting conversations that take place in these social spaces has the ability to radically transform professional practice.

Pillars of Digital Leadership, p.1


It is worth reading Eric Sheninger’s full Monograph on Digital Leadership, available here.

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If you are new to Twitter, you may want to take part in the OSSEMOOC course: Twitter for Absolute Beginners.  This video explains how Twitter can be used for educational purposes, even if you have not signed up for an account.


Here are some of the things we learned on Twitter today.

  1. Heidi Siwak was the final keynote speaker at #BIT15. Her amazing presentation can be found here.  Today she also shared on Twitter, a video explaining the ladder of inference, something she referred to in her presentation.  This is worth your time to learn more about.Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 11.03.51 PM

2. Patrick Miller shared the Freakonomics podcast on the importance of failure.  This is worth a listen!

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 11.03.23 PM3.  Brian Harrison shared this important TED Talk on the importance of courage – and which critics are important.

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How do you share the things you learn every day?



A Course or a MOOC?

As we work to get our last few participants set up in our course, we would like you to think about how this course is different from others you may have “taken”.

This course is a tiny MOOC.  What does that mean?  We think Dave Cormier explains it really well.  For the full video, check out our OSSEMOOC site here.  For more information on kinds of MOOCs, an explanation can be found here.


Resources:  Here are some resources for Principals found on Twitter today.

Why I Love Twitter in my Classroom – An exciting story about a grade 7 class connecting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today!

5 Ways to Lay the Foundation for Innovation

We’re Educating our Youth Into Unemployment

Would Education be More Valued if More Educators Shared Their Work?

Leading Change – Why Transformation Efforts Fail

Pillars of Digital Leadership

Course Overview

Twitter for Education Leaders is a MOOC-style course.  Learning opportunities have been organized for you.  Please take advantage of all of the opportunities you can.  Invite colleagues to share the learning materials and conversations. Everything is open.  We are here to support you in your journey to becoming a connected leader.

Please feel free to leave comments on this blog at any time, or email OSSEMOOC for support.

Course Overview:

Week 1:Building Your Understanding of the Power of Social Media

Week 2: Building a Positive Digital Footprint

Week 3: Building Your Audience