Innovative Online Faculty Development Utilizing the Power of Social Media



      Faculty development (FD) is important for continued professional development, but expense and distance remain challenging. These challenges could be minimized by the free and asynchronous nature of social media (SM). We sought to determine the utility and effectiveness of conducting a national online FD activity on Facebook by assessing participants' perceptions and use and facilitators' challenges.


      An educational activity of a national FD program was managed on a closed Facebook group. Activities included postings of educational technology goals, abstracting an article, and commenting on peers' postings. Sources of quantitative data included the Facebook postings and the survey responses. Surveys before, after, and 6 months after the activity assessed knowledge, attitudes and self-reported behaviors. Sources of qualitative data were the open-ended survey questions and the content of the Facebook postings.


      All participants completed the FD activity and evaluations, yielding 38 postings and 115 comments. Before the activity, 88% had a personal Facebook account, 64% were somewhat/very confident using Facebook, 77% thought SM would be useful for professional networking, and 12% had used it professionally. Six months after the activity, professional usage had increased to 35%. Continued use of Facebook for future presentations of this FD activity was recommended by 76%. Qualitative analysis yielded 12 types of Facebook postings and 7 themes related to using SM for FD.


      Conducting a national FD activity on Facebook yielded excellent participation rates and positive participant impressions, and it affected professional usage. Facebook may become an additional tool in the educator's toolbox for FD as a result of its acceptability and accessibility.


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