Do you get as excited as we do about going to big conferences
like ASHA? There's so much going on: Professional learning and
access to cutting-edge research. People from all over the world
sharing their passion for what they do. And networking, networking,
What if we told you that you can have a lot of this experience
daily? Well you can-through social media.
This is why professionals are turning to social media in droves.
Open communities of SLPs and audiologists share ideas, resources,
opportunities and friendship in the places you'd expect, like
LinkedIn, but also in places you might not, like Facebook, Twitter,
blogs, and even Pinterest. These platforms can offer professional
development, just as a conference does. Many SLPs and audiologists
work without the benefit of other professionals to answer
questions, brainstorm, or discuss evidence and research. Via social
media, professionals everywhere can access specialists, academics,
clinicians in every area, and "exhibitors," such as product
developers or suppliers.
The SLPs, audiologists and students using social media often
link to informative articles and innovative research. Discussions
cover everything from research, therapy techniques, job
opportunities and goal writing to new technology, upcoming
conferences, and workplace situations.
Of course, not all professionals embrace social media. At a
session on the topic at ASHA 2012, some attendees expressed
reluctance to engage with social media, citing lack of time, fear
of the unknown, or doubts about the professional growth available.
These concerns are valid when anyone first hears of this new
platform. Still, the use and development of primary learning
networks through social media is growing as people find out those
first objections don't always have to be a concern.
Of course, professional behavior is expected at a conference,
and there is a certain amount of professional behavior expected
with social media. These online networks are public and a
professional appearance is helpful. We know not to discuss specific
clients or students at a crowded restaurant, and this is also true
on the Internet. In addition to professional personal behavior, it
is important to recognize and respect that many workplaces now have
a social media policy. An employee's comments may not reflect the
employer's views. Therefore, those using social media
professionally (but not connected specifically to their employer)
often place a disclaimer on their profile stating that their views
may not reflect those of their employers.
Social media is here and many professionals are already reaping its
benefits, building a professional learning network, expanding their
practices, and engaging with SLPs and audiologists around the
world. In future columns, members of our online communities will
present information on social media platforms where speech and
hearing professionals are gathering, letting you know how to find
them and explaining what each platform is used for most. We will
also discuss common concerns about using social media for
professional development, as well as avoidable pitfalls. We look
forward to sharing our online "conference" experiences with
everyone so that, even if you can't go to ASHA this year, you'll
feel as though you did as a part of the online community!