Instagramming for Justice: The Potentials and Pitfalls of Culturally Relevant Professional Learning on Instagram

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Social media offers potential for educator professional learning, but platforms’ for-profit nature complicates this practice, especially for professional learning around justice-oriented pedagogies. This exploratory study investigated 551 publicly available Instagram posts shared by 11 purposefully sampled, justice-oriented education influencers over an 8-week period as the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed activism for racial justice unfolded in the United States. Qualitative analysis of post content indicated these influencers offered pandemic-related support, while also illustrating, enacting, and engaging culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies. However, promotional content was abundantly layered within posts and a cohesive message of how to enact culturally sustaining pedagogies was largely absent. Reflecting some of the paradoxes of learning via social media, our findings suggest there is some opportunity for justice-oriented professional learning from social media, however education influencers’ content is limited by platforms’ opaque algorithms and for-profit business models, which govern what influencers post and what followers see.

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