The Education Influencer: New Possibilities and Challenges for Teachers in the Social Media World
Abstract: In this primarily conceptual paper, we define and contextualize the phenomenon of the education influencer. We situate the education influencer concept in relation to research and theory on teacher social media use, teacher identity, micro-celebrity, social media influencers, and teacherpreneurship. While educator use of social media for professional learning and networking has received substantial prior attention in the literature, educator engagement with the entrepreneurial, commercial, and for-profit aspects of social media has received limited scrutiny. Some P-12 educators have used social media platforms to cultivate large audiences of followers, and, as has been seen in other industries, have looked for ways to develop personal brands and monetize their influence with their audiences. We illustrate the education influencer concept with empirical examples from our prior and on-going research. Next, we discuss the implications of the rise of education influencers for teachers and policymakers, and identify areas for future research. Given that education influencers have the potential to shape other educators’ beliefs, practices, education philosophies, and teacher identities, we also consider implications for teacher education.