Social media in teacher education: A systematic review of the literature

Alison Iredale, Katherine Stapleford & Diana Tremayne – Leeds Beckett University

Short paper

This paper reports on the findings from a systematic literature review into the effective use of social media in initial teacher education. Several previous studies have reviewed the literature surrounding the use of technology in teacher education (see inter alia Attwell and Hughes, 2010).

Our findings are grouped under two subheadings that address the conference theme:

Effective use of social media

Students can feel overwhelmed by the amount of contributions and postings on a range of social media platforms, although this is more significant on Twitter. Issues surrounding usability and assumptions around digital literacy require a more nuanced pedagogical approaches by course designers and teacher educators, including scaffolding, building trust, creating authentic tasks and aligning these to assessment processes. There is a danger, according to the research that teacher educators and course designers viewed students as a homogeneous group.

There was evidence that the social/professional divide was not always appreciated, leaving meaningful activity blurred in some online platforms, particularly blogging. The affordances of social media to encourage or develop reflective practice was noted by a range of articles, but again, findings cautioned against the assumption that students were able to apply critical thinking in these spaces without careful guidance and support pre-entry and embedded within the teaching during ITE programmes. Students reported a lack of time to participate in online spaces, with a preference for familiar social media tools over institutional tools built into virtual learning platforms for example, however it was also found that familiar online spaces were not seen as ‘academic’ in the same way as institutional ones. Indeed participation rates were found to be problematic where students found it challenging to establish their social presence (perhaps related to time pressures on full time 1 year courses), and where their focus was in responding to a final assignment.  Recommendations in this respect included providing a broader range of social media tools, to encourage social presence, and ensuring that early interventions were made by teacher educators.

Pedagogical principles

Recommendations here include the provision of guided, structured reflective practice by teacher educators over time, although conversely the risk of too much interference can be an issue. Students reported a dislike of peer editing and feedback in some articles, although this may be overcome by incorporating more explicit instruction on the process and value of online reflective and collaborative writing and building confidence through peer and tutor dialogue. It is reported that more digitally literate students appeared to be more positive towards the use of collaborative writing tools (Brodahl, Hadjerrouit, & Hansen, 2011)

Implications for further research

Two implications are suggested in the literature for further research into the effective use of social media in ITE; that of the private and student initiated groups, and the conflicts, tensions and ethical issues surrounding the blurring of personal and professional boundaries.


Attwell, G., & Hughes, J. (2010, September). Pedagogic approaches to using technology for learning: literature review. Retrieved 10 February 2016, from

Brodahl, C., Hadjerrouit, S., & Hansen, N. K. (2011). Collaborative Writing with Web 2.0 Technologies: Education Students’ Perceptions. Journal of Information Technology Education, 10, IIP73-IIP103.


Social media, teacher education, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, blogs, wikis, e-portfolio, Web 2.0,

Relation to the theme

  • building staff and student digital capability and confidence
  • innovative ways of meeting learning outcomes and enabling learning gain
  • engaging, stimulating and challenging learners