QUESTIONING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR VOCATIONAL TRAINING: THE VOICES OF TEACHERS
Although technology enhanced learning is widespread in vocational training setting, Lithuanian sectoral practical training centers pay bigger attention to the use of specialized educational technologies, such as smart hairdresser workstation, electronic training stand, or simulator for specialized equipment management than social media. The use of social media as tool for training in a vocational training institution (especially sectoral practical training center operating in post-soviet country) requires more extended investigation because of social media continuous development, organizational culture as well as the emergence of new training and learning practices. Underpinned by the texts of Blumer and Goffman, this research explored the contexts, conditions and situations how the vocational teachers, working in sectoral practical training centers, used social media tools (social networks, mobile apps and virtual learning environments). The grounded theory was applied for empirical data collection and analysis. The sensitizing concept - discovering self - made it possible to research vocational teachers not only as professionals, but also as adult learners continuously creating and sharing new professional knowledge.
We found the split up in personal narratives, how teachers questioned the use of social media for the vocational training. Some research participants defended the opinion that smartphones and internet should not be used in classrooms, while others saw the benefits of such type of (practical) training. The study showed that even if social media use does not depend on the teacher's age, work experience and gender, vocational teachers and their students traditionally were involved into different mobile applications and social networks. This “virtual breakthrough” slowed down and weakened the teaching and learning process.
Our study suggested, that vocational teachers, seeking to motivate students could:
i) improve personal use of smart technologies – “discovering self on the net”;
ii) examine the technological and social media literacy of their students and deepen into the applications used by students before teaching the subject;
iii) follow the latest developments in smart technology and continuously integrate training through social media into their own classes.
These findings contributed to understanding how the social media is used for the teaching and learning in sectoral practical training centers in Lithuania and raised questions for academic discussion.