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Principals’ experience of social media in New Zealand schools

This study looks at the penetration of social media into the contemporary educational landscape. Its aim is to understand the impact of social media on principals in New Zealand schools through the exploration of their experiences and perspectives, in the context of what is undoubtedly a complex and challenging leadership role. Social media has emerged as a ubiquitous technology that facilitates exchanges and makes collaborative stake-holder interactions possible (Bryar and Zavattaro (2011, p. 327). The positive and negative impact of this has not gone unnoticed by school principals, who as educational leaders, are expected to keep abreast of contemporary events which might impact on their individual schools. Principals demonstrate a growing awareness of the power, potential and influence that social media wields. This study captures some of those issues and challenges. This study reflects the experiences of six school principals interviewed from a range of educational settings. The research concern was: How do NZ principals experience and perceive social media? And what strategies can they adopt to address the challenges and impact of social media on their principal roles? Key findings from this study comprise insights from principals on their perceptions of social media. These include a range of motivations for use of social media and their awareness of the need for an online presence, despite the perceived challenges and the dominance of Facebook. Challenges include the permanence of digital footprints, the right to privacy, managing the misuse of social media platforms and the potential threats to their learning organisation. Insights of the practical issues of the day-to-day management of social media are explored, including the ‘public vs private persona’ of users, and the higher standard to which principals are held due to the nature of their position. Principals demonstrate that they are resilient - leadership challenges are discussed as is legislation, policy, practice and training and the nature of available advice and support. This thesis adds to the limited research literature available about the use of social media by principals in New Zealand schools. It contributes to the body of knowledge and acknowledges the agility required of principals in their day-to-day management of learning organisations. Recommendations to principals include a need to be fully cognisant of their digital footprint and work on the assumption that everything that is ever placed online is public and permanent. They can learn about the many affordances of social media but also be cautious of the sources of information they choose to rely on.
Type of thesis
Dunsmore, S. (2021). Principals’ experience of social media in New Zealand schools (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14453
The University of Waikato
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