Professional Learning for Educators and Social Media – the promise of Clubhouse
For those of us who consider social media a useful form of professional learning, Clubhouse, the newest social media app, has just supercharged this. The real time audio format of Clubhouse, brings a unique intimacy to this opportunity that hasn’t, thus far, existed.
As a serial professional learning participant, I’ve attempted to engage in online digital spaces in a number of other platforms; Flipgrid, Facebook groups, Twitter chats, and private chats on different platforms. While all of these have specific features that work well for some things, nothing has provided the same level of open authentic communication and collaboration with others. Clubhouse offers an opportunity and space to truly share, listen and be heard. I feel I’m making real connections and developing real relationships with people I respect, which is very exciting professionally.
I’m not the only one who feels like this. Clubhouse has grown from 600,000 in December 2020 to 10 million in February 2021 and has grown five times since January 2021 – all within its organic growth model, being invite only and exclusively available on Apple iPhone. Imagine what will happen when it opens to Android, which is apparently within a couple of months.
“Clubhouse allows educators to connect with fellow educators and share best practise and also to discuss the bigger ideas around education to allow them to reflect on their practice to improve student outcomes and also challenge their own views on education. It also allows them to hear voices that they may not have access to normally.”
– Doctor Michael Harvey, @doctor_harves
In 2014, AITSL published the Global Trends in Professional Learning and Development and identified five trends to keep an eye on. The fifth of these was, ‘Open, design led and immersive’ where ideas and resources are exchanged in unregulated online environments. Clubhouse is doing this on a massive, international, multilingual scale.
“Because information flows faster and more freely than ever, and because we are better connected than ever, the barriers to learning are being dismantled. We share what we learn instantly and, generally, without restrictions. How we learn, and whom we learn from, has been transformed. Our reliance upon anointed experts and authority figures has diminished, while our capacity to learn from each other has spiralled.”
― David Price, Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn In The Future
Given that Clubhouse educators are from all sectors such as; superintendents, ed-tech start up staff, climate change activists, SDG enthusiasts and newly qualified teachers, a unique mix of ed-related people can be in the same room, at the same time, sharing ideas and feedback. It is this unique blend that shows that Clubhouse has the potential to achieve what the AITSL report identified as ‘online communities becoming valuable opportunities to crowd source solutions to long standing solutions of policy or practice.
“Clubhouse is like an international conference that is going 24/7! The chance to network and learn from people across the world is very real, plus there is an opportunity to create to new projects & collaborations every day. “
– Ben Newsome @bennewsome
How are Educators using Clubhouse?
As a mixture between a podcast and the radio, you can treat it as such. Have it on in the background and be a ‘lurker’ in rooms while you unload the dishwasher or drive somewhere- or jump ‘on stage’ and actively take part in discussions or ask questions of panelists who you might never have had the opportunity to speak with.
We are seeing educators use Clubhouse in a range of different ways:
– as a virtual staffroom; to shoot the breeze, reflect on learning, talk about their week, tell funny anecdotes
– to build Professional Learning Networks with likeminded educators and people of all backgrounds and expertise – whether it’s culturally responsive curriculum or STEAM education, whether you want to find early years educators or higher ed service providers, educators in Finland or those in the city you live in, Clubhouse has all these people
– to find experts in other industries and areas, develop subject knowledge, (some educators are bringing them, virtually, into the classroom)
There are also a bunch of non-classroom educators that work for education companies, consult, have written books, host podcasts, etc. Some host rooms, others float around and join topics they enjoy.
“Clubhouse is a great space to collaborate with people from all around the world and different contexts. It’s also a play of serendipitous connection where you can find people with similar and complementary interests/skills. “
– Amanda Bickerstaff @abicker
One of the most exciting things I’ve seen over the last few weeks (the totality of my time there) is how educators are innovating and adapting Clubhouse to fit their professional learning purposes. We are seeing whole networks migrating to it. For example:
– the #AussieEd has been going in Australia for almost a decade, it’s the largest online community of educators and, if you’re trying to get a message to Aussie educators, using #AussieEd gets it there. #AussieEd is now a club on Clubhouse and they have been experimenting not only with having their weekly chat in Clubhouse, but also trying breakout rooms;
– Brett Salkas (@mrsalakas), from the AussieEd crew, has also experimented with a TeachMeet, an existing teaching networking and sharing of practice format that is traditionally done in person. Teach Meets allow educators 3-8 mins to share a tip, resource or idea on the Teach Meet’s theme;
– #edureading, an online research based approach to teaching run by Steven Kolber (@stevenkolber), will be hosted at the upcoming Educ8 conference for the first time off Twitter. Participants usually read set articles, reflect on them on Flipgrid, then join a monthly twitter chat (questions tweeted out and replied to by anyone wishing to take part). The clubhouse version will involve a live panel of educators who have read the article beforehand and will reflect and discuss together
– an education conference, completely held on Clubhouse, for educators, by educators. The Educ8 Conference is another example of educators taking an existing format and adapting it for Clubhouse. And with over 150 sessions being offered across three days, the appetite to experiment with Clubhouse as a platform for professional learning is certainly there.
Educators are experts at taking existing technology and making it work for ourselves (and our students), Clubhouse is really no different. I look forward to seeing how the educations community continues to grow and evolve both through the Educ8 Conference and beyond.
Next month Lottie’s blog, Educ8 – The First International 24/7 Education Conference on Clubhouse, will reflect on the Educ8 conference, the journey that got the team there and the key learnings that came from the first International Education Conference on Clubhouse.
Lottie Dowling is a Primary School trained educator who has worked in a number of education roles internationally for more than 20 years including state schools and international schools in London, China, and NZ. She has worked as a Drama and Literacy specialist, in ESL and EAL roles, and now specializes in Global Citizenship Education. She is currently the Manager of Going Global at Meg Languages.