Why can’t I do a better job convincing my fellow educators of the power of Twitter?
I have been a pseudo Twitter evangelist since I first signed up for the service in August 2008, nearly four years ago. I have conducted workshops across the region, had many face to face conversations, and integrated Twitter into my college courses. In fact, many of you have been gracious to reply to my tweets during demonstrations. Yet, I have at best planted a seed in educator’s minds but not many have made the leap. I believe these are the reasons:
1. Some see the image of Twitter as simply a celebrity hang out.
The truth is that popular media has been pushing Twitter more than ever as a way to keep in touch with live events. In watching Wimbledon this week, the network was displaying live tweets as if the average Joe had more expertise about tennis than John McEnroe. Britney Spears has over 18 million followers, Shaq has nearly 6 million, Lady Gaga has 26 million, and Justin Bieber comes in at 24 million followers. Even the largest education “rock stars” on Twitter top out at 25,000 Twitter followers. There’s something wrong with that formula.
2. Many see Twitter as simply a marketing tool
I am certainly gaining on my Twitter followers daily, but honestly, many of my followers are textbook companies and other vendors who are hoping I’ll follow them, click on their links, or at least remember their name or product.
But probably the greatest reason why Twitter is not exploding is…
3. Technology is still not intuitive for scores of educators.
It’s been a decade since the term “digital native” was popularized to describe those young people who grew up with a mouse in their hands. Take my 22 year old daughter Abby, for example:
* The first commercial dial up Internet provider was launched the year she was born.
* She was a year old when the first web site was created,
* Four when the first popular web browser Netscape Navigator was released,
* Eight when Google launched,
* 11 years old when Wikipedia was born,
* 14 when Facebook debuted,
* 16 when the first Tweet was delivered in 2006, and
* 17 when the iPhone was the biggest innovation of 2007.
It’s not that the current generation of teachers and administrators aren’t smart enough, savvy enough, or not wanting to learn or connect. It’s simply that they haven’t seen that the juice is worth the squeeze. My daughter doesn’t even question the power of social media; it’s like you or me questioning the use of a pen or pencil.
Check out the graphic at the top of the post. These five tweets are a response to my tweet asking my Personal Learning Network (PLN) why they believe Twitter is powerful. I was demonstrating this during a Summer Institute Class at New England College and frankly, the response from my students was polite but not ecstatic.
Trust me. Twitter is one of the most powerful professional development tools educators have available to us. If you’re not on Twitter, contact me, follow me, or check out my Twitter links. It will be worth the effort.
Your thoughts? I welcome your comments.