Title

Instagramming Their Hearts Out: What Do Edu-Influencers Share On Instagram?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

Abstract

Some K-12 social media celebrities, or influencers, have begun to enact influence at a massive scale, possibly shaping the teachers who follow them, while seeking individual profit in the process. In this qualitative study, the authors explored the content edu-influencers share on Instagram, which is an understudied yet increasingly popular social media site, where influencer culture runs rampant. The authors coded publicly available Instagram posts (n = 310) and stories (n = 115) shared by 18 influencers comprising the popular and racially diverse K-12 collaborative, Teach Your Heart Out™. They observed activity across 4 weeks during the 2019 back-to-school season. Edu-influencers’ content encompassed four themes: promoting products and themselves, motivating teachers, soliciting engagement, and advocating for classroom approaches. On one hand, edu-influencers sometimes facilitated teacher networking, provided motivational messages for teachers, shared resources with teachers, provided authentic examples of classroom practice, and promoted social justice orientations. However, some influencers’ activity was overwhelmingly promotional, lacked thoughtful explanation, or missed an opportunity for connection to critical social issues. Findings shed light on the phenomenon of educator influencer culture, highlighting the need for critical digital literacies among teachers who use social media for professional purposes.

Publication Title

Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education

Volume

20

Issue

3

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Rights Statement

In Copyright