The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. John Eller

Second Advisor

Dr. Roger Worner

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Miller

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Daniel Bittman

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Social Media, Leadership, K-12, Principal, Professional Development


Over past decades, the position of principal, like that of technology, has evolved and changed drastically. Today, the changing face of Internet technologies is merging with the changing face of educational professional development (United States Department of Education, 2010; Veletsianos, 2012). Due to rapid growth and change within the technology industry, there is limited research about the relationship of technology and professional development.

Although some research can be found regarding the manner in which scholars, academics, educators, and students are using [Social Network Sites] in education,there is little research that pertains specifically to usage of this tool by school principals. Further research is needed to examine principals’ use of SNS to: 1) sustain a level of expertise within their role; 2) access content that is directly related to practice; 3) provide collaboration and sharing of knowledge with other practitioners; and 4) construct personalized learning.

In order to gain a better understanding of how SNS are being used, specifically by active principals, for personalized professional development purposes, a qualitative case study methodology was implemented. Employing one-on-one interviews, data was coded and analyzed to provide specific perspectives on the manner in which five selected principals were using Twitter in dispensing their duties.

The [following] research questions were intended to provide an expanded understanding of the manner in which principals are using Twitter for effective, personal and professional development.

  1. How are selected principals using Twitter to access content that directly relates to practice and constructs personalized learning?

  2. How are selected principals using SNS to collaborate with other practitioners and sustain a level of role expertise?

  3. What are selected principals’ perceptions of the effectiveness of using SNS for personal, professional development purposes?

Research questions were framed according to Rutherford’s (2010) review of literature, which concluded that effective professional development is practical (Borko, 2004; Darling-Hammond & Mclaughlin, 1995; Hirsh, 2004; Nord, 2004; Wei et al., 2009), participant-driven or constructivist in nature (Borko, 2004; Darling-Hammond & Mclaughlin, 1995; Wayne et al., 2008), and collaborative (Borko, 2004; Darling-Hammond & Mclaughlin, 1995; Hirsh, 2004; Nord, 2004; Warren-Little, 2006) and helps professionals sustain a level of expertise (Borko, 2004; Darling-Hammond & Mclaughlin, 1995; Wayne et al., 2008; Wei et al., 2009). Overall, principals provided ratings of “very valuable” or “extremely valuable” to ninety percent (18) of [Rutherford’s] four key elements that characterize effective professional development.

In summary, the data collected through this qualitative case study furnished high correlations between the use of Twitter for professional purposes and the key characteristics of effective professional development, as defined by Rutherford (2010). Therefore, although this study is not generalizable, the findings support the notion that principals can use SNS for effective personal, professional development purposes.



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