If you’re an educational Twitter user at any level, you need to read Tom Whitby’s post “What Twitter Shortcomings?“. Tom is always good for a thought provoking post and he doesn’t disappoint here. His reflection this time is in reaction to a colleague who has concerns about the “education culture social media”.
A return to the early days? Hmmm. In the early days, there were no norms or standards for using Twitter. It was crafted by the early adopters to be what it is or what it isn’t today.
In a way, I can understand the position that his colleague has identified. There are, indeed, people who are using social media, specifically Twitter, for shameless self-promotion and trying to promote (or create) their “brand”. You see it regularly – they haven’t posted for a year and then their employer sends them off to a special event and now they’re checking in to let everyone know that they’re there and you’re not. There might even be a picture or two. I met a keynote speaker once who was an “avid Twitter user” so I decided to see what her focus was. Well, she had maybe 50 followers, followed 10, and had sent 40 Twitter messages, the last being a couple of months ago. I guess avid is in the eyes of the beholder.
If you read the entirety of Tom’s post, you’ll see where he stands on these and similar uses. To steal a quote from the post I made a couple of days ago. I’m OK with that. I hope that eventually they will be assimilated into the growth culture and start to share their own insights. At the very least, I hope that they’re using the search function or following hashtags to get a pulse of what’s happening now. After all, therein lies one of Twitter’s super powers. In Twitter, we have a living, breathing entity that’s reporting on what’s happened minutes ago. No more waiting for the book or movie to come out! We’ve learned right now and we’re moving on. We can choose, during this moment in time, to dig deeper or glance over a concept. There never has been a better opportunity to do this in education.
I do really hope that, at whatever entry point they currently use, they use the opportunity to refine their level of participation. As it would happen, I read another article with some great advice. “The Secret Behind The Most Innovative Tweeters“. In three pieces of advice, you can go from passive consumer to someone that makes people perk up because they want to know your thoughts. They aren’t earth shattering attributes but, when I think of those who I value the most, they describe them perfectly.
Back to the original premise in Tom’s post…there was a time when professional learning meant sitting until the end of the presentation or getting through their book to decide that the presenter was irrelevant and not worth the time. With the quick hitter of Twitter, you can make that decision and unfollow them immediately. That’s another super power of Twitter that I think people often overlook!
After all, who wants to be considered irrelevant?