For those of us who aren’t educators, Twitter for teachers is an entirely different beast. It’s not about celebrities; it’s about connecting and sharing.
There was a time a few years ago when, for the tech-education zealots, Twitter was the thing. Every education conference had its own hashtag (and still does), and the promise of sharing- the ease of sharing using Twitter was hard to resist. For many- it was addictive.
These “techucators” jumped on Twitter, connected, shared, and waited in droves for their school Personal Learning Networks (PLN) to explode. They did workshops, created all-school hashtags. And they waited. And waited. And…. today? Many of them are still waiting for the movement to take hold.
Earlier in the year I posted real data about how little educators actually make a dent in Twitter and social networking. My colleague Josh Stumpenhorst likes to ask people in local conferences to “raise your hands if you’re on Twitter.” Since I’ve seen him speak a number of times, the responses over the years have grown from a handful of people to now- it’s usually a chuckle or a punchline as only a few people raise their hands. I’ve personally seen more abandoned educator Twitter and Google+ accounts than used ones.
Did the Twitter bubble pop? Perhaps, looking through our own goggles, there never was a bubble.
If, after this many years, we’re still hearing educators say, “I don’t get Twitter,” then maybe the problem is not the educator- but the tool. Some of these are quite talented educators that I’ve seen attempt to use Twitter, so they’re no slouches. Since the #edchat hashtag explosion- Twitter (for some) has become a bullet train to chaos. Though, you might get it (I’ve been on Twitter since 2007), I’ve seen educators respond to Twitter chats as if they were looking at static on a television, circa 1983. Twitter has grown to a confusing mess that is even more challenging for the uninitiated to wrap their mind around.
It can take a couple years to build a decent PLN, and I’m not sure most teachers would say that was an efficient use of their time.
Is it Time For a New Tool?
What if there was a way to discover what’s happening on Twitter, the usefulness of the sharing there, the connectedness of the people we meet there, without the confusion? What if we could check out useful news, or education events in a way that was uncluttered, less noisy, and gave education content the way educators wanted to get it: either in their email, or through social media, or from discovery through an engaging website or mobile experience?
I think for those teachers that “don’t get Twitter,” this is a way for them to make sense of it all.
I’ve been experimenting with a new way to curate and publish content- to gather many of the content gems in one basket, as well as publish original content. It’s called The Department. It’s a running stream of content that is curated by myself and guest editors in the education realm. I think for those teachers that “don’t get Twitter,” this is a way for them to make sense of it all. Or, at the least, engage in it. It’s a place of education content discovery. It’s also a way for us to introduce and share social media tools (like Twitter) to educators that makes the first few steps- simple. Instead of static, it’s more like, HBO.
We actually publish on other places on the web (like here on Medium!), and highlight those posts using hashtags. Now for the non-technical, don’t worry, that’s not really important, because what you end up getting is a curated river of some of the best education news (EdNews), student and teacher projects (MakerEd), tools for teachers (EdTools), and custom curated Twitter chats like we did Saturday morning with #satchatwc (our custom page here). It’s digestible. It’s sharable. It’s simple.
Over the years, I, as other teachers in technology education want as well, desire to help educators find great tools, find great resources without the clutter. As the education web has grown, there have only been more and more resources- which has made the Twitter chat phenomenon a love it or hate it experience.
Let’s streamline that.
Over the next few months, The Department will be inviting guest Editors, starting in June with Kevin Brookhouser. Kevin will be highlighting his favorite educators on Twitter, and The Department will be featuring his favorite hashtags, and pushing out their great content and tweets in a fun, palatable, engaging way. We’ll also bring in some of our favorite education brands to highlight the best of education tools and products.
Can do more with education and social media? Can we help education hit a tipping point in the media? Can we truly make education trend (and I mean nationally)?