ISC Research has released a white paper about the leading social media influencers within international education during 2021, naming these individuals ‘Edruptors’ and ranking them in a list of 75. The results were identified from analysis of key social media platforms. During our research, we spoke with several of the leading figures on the list about what they believe will matter most for educators in 2022.
COVID-19 is still the dominant topic of conversation
Due to their following, these influencers are in a perfect place to hear about what their fellow educators are discussing the most. It may come as no surprise to find how to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world at the top of the list of topics. Kai Vacher, Principal of British School Muscat says that the uncertainty around external exams has been challenging for both students and staff.
“These are very important for our young people. They’re very important for their parents. They’re very important for the teachers that teach them, and the anxiety and the disruption that we’ve had to face, that has taken its toll on the community,” says Kai.
Vicki Davis, The Cool Cat Teacher, shares free resources and information for teachers via her blog and podcast. She adds that one of the most common discussions among educators is about how to teach a hybrid class. “How do I teach in Zoom? That’s still a thing,” says Vicki, “But how do I teach when I have them here and there? And how do I connect with kids? How do I help them emotionally? There’s a big emotional toll it’s taking on the children. And it’s an emotional toll it’s taking on teachers.”
Dr David Willows, Director of Advancement at the International School of Brussels, says that experiences from COVID will dominate the conversation for some time. “There’s a greater urgency to think about how our schools will be beyond COVID, and what are the lessons that we’ve learned?” says David. “There’s a danger in some ways that we simply retreat back to an almost traditionalism of life in 2018 and 2019. But I think that our responsibility is to try and not see this as going back, but moving forward into something that is more joyful and more liberating and more free as human beings in a post COVID world. Really, understanding what we’ve learned over the last couple of years.”
The power of social media and how it can help to reach a broader audience
“Being an influencer is not so much stating ‘This is what I believe’, as much as presenting another perspective and looking at the world from another point of view – challenging us to see the world differently.” David Willows
Social media is a valuable tool for any educator ready to share their own experiences or ideas. In addition, it can also help them reach members of the community that they may not ordinarily interact with.
Ioannis Ioannou believes that his sense of authenticity and active engagement on social media is how he developed a following. “In my social media, I am just being me,” says Ioannis. “My willingness to engage authentically seems to have resonated with a lot of people over the years… I think for me, social media has also been an extremely useful engagement tool because it’s a two-way communication.”
David Willows says that his platform is about presenting an alternative viewpoint. “Being an influencer is not so much stating ‘This is what I believe’, as much as presenting another perspective and looking at the world from another point of view – challenging us to see the world differently.”
Kai Vacher thinks that social media is extremely important for his role as an international school leader following a British curriculum. “It helps me keep in contact with what’s happening in UK education. There are some things from the UK I would never have found out about if it wasn’t for social media. Just because you’re alone as a school leader, maybe a long way from home or anywhere remote, social media means that you always have others you can connect with.”
Simply using social media does not guarantee a following. If you want to achieve that, it is also important to match your message and topics to the right audience and platform. Vicki Davis has had the most success with reaching out to teachers on Twitter. In comparison, Kai Vacher and David Willows, who are connecting more directly with international school leaders, are finding that LinkedIn is more suitable to their needs.
While the main topic of conversation amongst educators remains COVID, it will be interesting to see how this continues to shift, as schools continue to define their ‘new normal’. The white paper, ‘Edruptors 2021: the top international education influencers of the past year’ includes a full list of the top 75 Edruptors of 2021 as well as leading education organisations followed on social media and is available to download for free.