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Study: New teachers lack training in social media

PHOENIX -- Teachers across the nation are struggling with social media, a survey said.

The University of Phoenix study of about 1,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers said that teachers are having issues with how to connect with parents and teachers on social networks. The survey said that less than one-third of the teachers have received training on how to use social media to connect with their students or as an educational tool.

"That's why only 17 percent of K-12 teachers encourage their students to connect with them through social media, and only 18 percent of them integrate it into their classrooms," said Kathy Cook, director of educational technology with the University of Phoenix's College of Education.

The survey said that less than one-third of new teachers receive training on how to use social media in the classroom and, because of that lack of training, most are avoiding its use altogether.

But that's not the only problem. Cook said many teachers are concerned about being able to separate their social media accounts in their business and professional lives and it's an easy problem to solve if they use the options presented to that.

"They may only want to use Facebook for their personal use, and LinkedIn to communicate with educational professionals," she said.

Teachers are also fearful of parents using social media to spy on their private lives.

Despite about 80 percent using social media for personal reasons, the study said many teachers see the benefit of using social media but are unsure how to go about integrating it in the classroom. Cook had some advice.

Cook suggested that Twitter is a good way for teachers to update students and parents and Skype can be very useful in class.

"Now you can go out and find the authors of the books that you're reading in class and invite those authors into the classroom through technology tools," she said.

Cook said social media can be a great addition to the classroom, and she encourages teachers to familiarize themselves with all of the online platforms.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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