Make Connections With Tioki

For teachers trying to improve their craft by making online connections with like-minded professionals, bid a fond farewell to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Thanks to Tioki, a powerful niche social networking site, teachers now have an online destination dedicated solely to education and best classroom practices.

Tioki offers an exhaustive suite of free services, and I’m very impressed by the “Find Connections” option—one of the Web site’s most powerful tools. It’s incredibly easy to search by name, skill, e-mail, location, subject and grade.

I’m thrilled to speak with Pete Walton, Growth Director and a part of the founding team at Tioki. Walton epitomizes the energetic, forward-thinking type that makes any company flourish, and he speaks with a deep passion for improving education.

“Hands down, the thing that makes me the happiest is connections,” Walton says, noting that Tioki takes tremendous pride in helping educators make meaningful exchanges.

I recently connected with David Spencer, an outdoor education teacher from Canada. I hope to get his input on how students react to not having access to technology on trips. I’m very curious to see if American students behave any differently.

I also connected with Scott Kinkpoh, who has an M.A. in Instructional Technology. He teaches middle school in Ohio, and I would love to learn how he utilizes online tools to reach younger students.

Tioki even allows users to join and create groups, all in an effort to help teachers explore their interests and make more meaningful connections. I joined “Education Bloggers,” and I can’t wait to meet new people with fresh ideas. I also plan to start my own group on how to teach student publications in the digital age.

“Groups is one of the first avenues that people go for because you have subject-specific and grade-specific groups,” Walton says. “The nice thing is when you find people that are members of these groups, you can see what blogs they are writing and content they are sharing, and get a feel before you connect.”

Like on other social networking sites, users also create their own profiles—and it’s easy to post updates or links to interesting articles. On the homepage, users can view and comment on recent feeds.

I’m also a huge fan of Tioki’s job listings feature, which will flourish as more users join the site. With Tioki’s growing network, the company could offer teacher-recruiting firms like Carney Sandoe some serious competition. I’m thrilled to hear Walton’s response:

“First off, I just want to say that yes, our goal is to disrupt this whole area of teacher hiring,” he says. “The way it is now is not working, it’s not enough. To get good teachers in front of the classroom, hands down, that’s our number-one goal.”

I love how Tioki emulates LinkedIn, especially by allowing users to “vouch” for each other. This makes the site an even more attractive hiring platform for employers, who are looking for more than just a resume and letters to determine a candidate’s viability.

I’m glad to hear from Walton that Tioki doesn’t plan to host traditional job fairs, and that the company plans to keep things virtual. Campus visits get expensive, and I doubt that anybody can tell much of anything from one live teaching demonstration. Regardless, teachers should use Tioki to upload video of multiple lessons with their own students. According to Walton, users have “full command” over who sees their videos, contact information and profile pictures.

But why should educators use Tioki over other social networking sites?

LinkedIn is a “fantastic site,” Walton says, but it’s not designed for education. I agree, especially in that LinkedIn caters to corporate interests and business hiring. Tioki, however, specializes in resource sharing and learning from other professionals.

According to Walton, “Facebook is way too personal.” I support creating class Facebook pages for educational use, and I find no need for silly pseudo-social networking sites like Edmodo. Still, I don’t encourage candidates to advertise personal profiles to potential employers. This suggests poor decision-making and juvenile behavior.

I also agree with Walton that while Twitter is a “fantastic” way to communicate, it’s too niche-centered—-especially for those still growing accustomed to emerging technologies.

“[Tioki] is easy to hop-on and start using,” Walton says. “It’s made just for education so you don’t have to worry about old photos of you from college popping-up, and it’s easy for you to actually network and actually learn and grow as an educator—-to make yourself a better teacher.”

SpinEDU is proud to give its unwavering support to Walton and Tioki. Without question, this social networking site will change the face of education for the better.

As a coach, history and journalism teacher at Brimmer and May, a wonderful independent school in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, I have the absolute best job in the world. I am thrilled to get up every morning to engage with interesting young people, and I'm equally fortunate to have such amazing colleagues and mentors. As the founder of Spin Education, I encourage you to check-in frequently and submit posts and lessons—all in an effort to better our practice as teachers.

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