Published on August 9th, 20130
CASLPA Wired: Social Media Resources for S-LPsBy Sean Sweeney, MS, M.Ed., CCC-SLP This article has been republished from the Summer 2013 issue of Communiqué. Please note that this article was originally published when Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) was called the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA).
DIY Professional Development
Money is tight. Time is tighter. Yet, we all crave information about improving our practice and right now there is a particular interest in learning about utilizing technology in our field. Though many S-LPs seem skeptical or even phobic about engaging in social media for professional purposes, it continues to establish itself as a wonderful resource for do-it-yourself learning.
Let’s think of social media in terms that we really understand as speech and language professionals: it can be purely receptive by allowing us to simply subscribe to various resources. Additionally, we can choose social media resources that align with our learning style: visual, verbal, auditory.
In this column we will explore some (free!) up-to-date channels within social media that can be helpful to S-LPs, particularly with regard to integrating technology into our practice.
Pinterest is a relative newcomer to the world of social media, but has been a huge hit, especially with those who like visual examples of crafting, home decor and fashion. It also provides a great repository of information about educational topics, including those relevant to S-LPs. The allure of Pinterest lies largely in its highly visual interface: users can browse “Pinboards” of links that others have pinned, each marked by an image providing visual information about the link’s content. As you navigate these searchable trails, you can “follow” anyone providing content of interest to you, and thus receive information in a constantly updating visual bulletin board. Pinterest can be accessed in any web browser, but also has terrific iPad/iPhone and Android apps. To get started with Pinterest, follow Pediastaff, a staffing and placement company with a “parallel mission to serve the entire special needs community through great resources” by sharing in social media. Pediastaff’s boards feature multidisciplinary information about therapy activities in a huge variety of categories and contexts. S-LP Lauren Enders is also a must-follow, providing a wealth of well-organized boards about apps for many goal areas as well as information about assistive technology and augmentative/alternative communication. Like other resources highlighted here, Pinterest can be purely receptive. However, if you “Re-Pin” resources onto your own boards, others will follow and learn from your sharing!
Blogs are also a great resource for professional development and satisfy our craving for well-crafted explanations of topics and ideas within our field. Blogs, however, are basically intermittently-updated websites, and it doesn’t make much sense to access them by navigating to them individually. Doing so is time-consuming and doesn’t allow us to track what we’ve already read. This is best done with the use of a blog aggregator such as the recently-embraced Feedly, which many flocked to after the demise of Google’s popular Reader. Feedly allows you to add the names or web addresses of blogs you would like to follow and then review them as a sort of interactive, customized magazine. The service tracks read and unread items for each resource added and also allows users to share posts with colleagues via email, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. What blogs should you add? Start by perusing compilations of speech-related blogs such as this list by Online Speech Pathology Programs, or Jenna Rayburn’s comprehensive list at her blog Speech Room News. Then simply add the web address of blogs you find interesting within Feedly, and you will receive posts to read within the app. Feedly is cross-platform, with great web-based, iPad/iPhone and Android apps.
Finally, some of us prefer learning by listening, and podcasts provide a great avenue for professional development. If you have a long commute, they also help you reclaim some of that time spent in the car in exchange for new ideas and apps to employ in therapy. Podcasts are simply audio (some video, depending on where you access them) talk shows conducted by people who have interest in various topics, including educational technology specialists and special educators. Creators of podcasts generally publish their shows for free through iTunes. All of these can be accessed through the free Podcasts app on iPhone or iPad, iPP Podcasts on Android, or through the publisher’s websites. What should you listen to first? Try a few of The EdReach Network’s helpful casts: EdCeptional, focused on special education and featuring S-LP Deb Truskey, or Mobile Reach, which recently aired an episode on apps for reluctant readers. You may want to download episodes while connected to Wi-Fi in order to avoid using too much of your cellular data. Be sure to check the podcasts’ websites after listening, as they generally provide “show notes” with shared resources.
Sean Sweeney, MS, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
About the author:
Sean Sweeney, MS, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, instructional technology specialist and consultant. He works in the Newton Public Schools and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He is the author of the blog SpeechTechie.
Interested in learning more?
For more information about SpeechTechie go to www.speechtechie.com.