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Finding the right forum for talking with teachers

I have been in higher education for a term over two years now and the one thing I continue to struggle with it finding a platform/medium through which to have a discussion with teachers about classroom practices. One of my jobs is to undertake and then write up research – and to be honest I really enjoy the academic rigor of doing that and achieving a peer-reviewed publication is fantastic. Yet I also wonder who I’m ‘talking’ to when I write this stuff? I know I am talking to a handful of fellow academics who read the journals regularly.  I know that my work may be picked up by other academics (or more probably their postgraduate and undergraduate students) when it falls under their gaze for a project (or assignment). But what about teachers?

In the summer I went to the association for Physical Education’s (afPE) national conference and many of the faces were familiar ones from higher education. Otherwise the delegates were from industry or local education authorities but very few appeared to be teachers. I was there to lead a session on “games-making” but only had three delegates interested in the work I was doing and had prepared – it just didn’t fit into their agendas. Now that is my fault (I guess I didn’t judge the audience - as what excited me didn’t excite them) but I am still left perplexed. Ben Jones (@benpaddlejones) and I recently had a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal in Australia but I wonder how many teachers have read it. What’s its impact factor? Less than one teacher in 100,000? Or is that being too optimistic? 

So my question is what forum exists that teachers (Physical Education preferably from my perspective) can talk through? Twitter does seem popular but 140 characters and the continual time stream make the sense of conversation difficult to follow. Facebook? Is this the right medium given that it was original set up as a ‘friends reunited’ platform? Can PEPRN be a place even for a handful of international conversations?

Therefore my two calls to action for this blog are as follows: 

1)   Please comment on this blog or one of the others blogs or discussions on PEPRN and help me to understand where I might have the conversations that I crave.

2)   Tweet me, DM me (@DrAshCasey) or email me (Ashley.Casey@beds.ac.uk) the address of your blog and I pledge to start to comment on your blog posts as we need to create a community that support one another.



(Blog 3 in my 30-day blogging challenge)

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On Sunday 18 December at 13:22 Joey Feith said
I don't think that it is about finding the right forum as much as it is about building the right relationships. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are being used by different people in different ways. On top of this, not everyone who is on Twitter is on Facebook, and not everyone who is on Facebook is on another social networking platform either. If you're trying to reach a maximum amount of teachers, then it is important for you to maintain a presence on the various social networking platforms that you know teachers are using. But finding these teachers and making that initial contact is only first step. From there, you need to learn more about each person, find out why/how they are using the platforms that they use, discover what their interests are, and figure out what is the best way to spark engagement from their part. Once you have a better understanding of the people in your audience and what prompts them to share, then you will be in a better position to get them to participate in the discussion you're trying to have. Basically, I see it as being a three step process: 1. Find your audience, 2. Build a relationship with them using the platforms they are comfortable with, 3. Shape your content so that it prompts them to engage. By the way, you got me a) on Twitter/RSS (where you found me), b) because it had to do with social media (how you shaped you shaped your content), and c) because I've shared here before, knew how to sign in, and because we've collaborated in the past (my relationship with your blog). Where will you find the next person, how are you going to get them to engage, and why will they? I'd be curious to see other commenters leave their answers to those three questions as well.
Ashley Casey
About me
On Monday 19 December at 10:16 Ashley Casey said
So it doesn't come down to high quality in one area but coverage in many. I can see the benefits of that but how do I manage it? Don't I get repetitive and end up following the same people just on different networks? I undertaking the 30 day blog challenge in an effort to reinvigorate my online profile as time and busyness at work has meant that I have let it slip. People don't want to read a static page but something that presents bite sized pieces of information on a regular basis. But it is tough. Does anyone have any strategies for keeping things interesting? What am I not doing that i should be doing? How to talk to teachers on social media platforms that interest them (rather than on ones that are convenient to me)?
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On Sunday 08 January at 20:20 Liz Taplin said
I guess building an audience for your blog is a slow process requiring patience and perserverence - much the same as most skills! Two ideas that may be worth pursuing... Have you looked at the physical education thread on the TES forum/chat room? It seems to have a good flow of users and you could post there and gently nudge people over to your blog. Another option might be to make people aware of the blog via Physical Education Matters or the afPE newsletter. But whatever happens, keep going - the audience and the interaction will happen.

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