Why Twitter?

Yesterday morning, I was tagged in an interesting question from Jennifer Casa-Todd.

Well, let me see now.  Starting at the As, there’s Andrea, Andrew, Andy, Aviva – whoa, this is going to take a while.  As I was contemplating moving the count to my other hand, Steven jumped in with his answer.

I thought that answer might be pretty US-Centric.  Surely, there would be more world-wide.  But how many remains the question.  So, I gave it my best shot, smart aleck style.

Her response.

So, she’s working on something.  A blog post?  A presentation?  A workshop?  Hopefully, we’ll find out if we’re lucky enough to have her read this post and let us know or it gets discovered in some other manner.

But, her initial question and Steven’s response were interesting.

They reminded me of something my dad used to say.  “If everyone jumped off the end of the dock at Goderich, would you?”  As a swimmer, but yet being respectful, I never answered with my real answer “Actually, yes, it would be interesting.”  But his message about blindly following others was well received.  Does joining Twitter fall into the same category?

Jennifer’s question in itself begs a few more questions.

  • What is an educator?  It’s something that I wrestled with when I started the process of trying to connect Ontario Educators on Fridays.  What indeed is an educator for this purpose?  Teacher?  Principal?  Superintendent?  Director?  Consultant?  Early Childhood Educator?  Owner/teacher of a private school?  Trustee of education?  Consultant?  Thought leader?  Developer of educational software or web resource?
  • What is the power of a big number?  The world’s biggest echo chamber?  A place for discourse?  A place to discover and share?  The world’s biggest virtual classroom?
  • What does being “on Twitter” mean?  Being vocal and interacting?  Having an account just for your Linkedin or Digital Profile to say you have one?  Retweeting comments you agree with?  Hunting down and challenging spreaders of misinformation?  Doing nothing except coming out of hiding to say “Vote for me here”.  Being able to say “I gots a PLN”?  Using Twitter as a research network and favouring resources for later use?  Using Twitter to advertise your blog or other products/services?

Maybe Google knows.

I searched blindly for “how many educators are on Twitter” with futility but this set of Twitter Statistics from Statistic Brain Research Institute was in the results.  Hopefully, it’s good information – I’d never heard of them before.  The numbers are so huge that it validates my original response of “lots”.  Subtract the total of active users from the total users tells an interesting story.  There’s a great deal to be inferred from the numbers.  It’s really worth the read and lends an appreciation for getting in early while your desired Twitter name was still available.  The numbers are just so staggering.  It humbles you to think that anyone even knows that you’re there when there are so many other options.

So, does the value lie in the numbers?  I would suggest not, per se, but in the results that those numbers can generate.

Talk to people about the value of Twitter and they’ll talk about the connections.  Connect with the right people and the learning and the value is exponential.  There’s something really special about going to a conference, knowing people, and a bit about them before even meeting them face by face.  I think that you start to build that friendship/colleague profile by understanding what they share and where their interests lie long before ever being introduced.  Can you say that about any other media?

But we’re educators.  The value there?  I like to talk about things I learned during my first cup of coffee and before breakfast, thanks to following the right people.  Ten things I learned this morning, for example….

  • Best Way to Take Notes In Class Isn’t On Your Laptop, Research Finds
  • How a London company is bringing education to Africa in flat-pack boxes
  • Stephen Harper touts $5B surplus but Liberals call it ‘phoney’
  • Al Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison in Egypt
  • Lemming?  3 Destructive Trends in ELearning:
  • 15 Common Mistakes Teachers Make Teaching With Technology
  • Want to set up your classroom for #BlendedLearning?
  • 7 Things Every Educator Needs to Know About Online Learning
  • Did you know chickens love blueberries? Watching a chicken run is hilarious
  • TeachOntario Talks: Teaching Team Supports Inquiry

Where else could you learn that in such a personalized manner than on Twitter?  Certainly television news only scrapes the surface of things that their producers think will be popular.  Radio news is even worse.  Professional education books are dated by the time that they’re written, proofread, revised, printed, shipped, and you stumble upon them at the bookstore.

I know of educators who are using the power of “Twitter as Research Assistant” for assistance with their Annual Learning Plan.

Whew!  That was a great deal of work but I thank Jennifer for the inspiration for her seemingly simple question yesterday morning.  It truly got me thinking and pulling my thoughts together to help me answer the question “Why Twitter?”

p.s. I still am no closer to knowing the answer to the question.

She takes her thinking to a CoffeeEDU next month (actually, in a couple of days).  If you’re in the area, why not join her and the conversation.  Perhaps it will put you over the top with one of your passions.  At the least, she’ll get a sense as to how many coffee drinking Twitter users there are in Aurora.

4 thoughts on “Why Twitter?

  1. Hi Doug,
    I probably re-wrote my original query 5 times before I actually tweeted it. I asked Steven because he was the first person I ever followed on Twitter and often presents on the idea of the connected educator. Alice Keeler knows just about everything about everything in the US Ed scene as I would say you do here in ON. I included Twitter hoping they could share some stats they have.
    When I composed the tweet, I had to keep it simple & short. I meant the term Educator as you do; the broad term for anyone involved in or concerned with Education. “on Twitter” , I figured would be a number that would be easier to get than, “actively engaged on” Twitter (which is harder to define, as you suggest, and more characters). What I wanted when I asked the question yesterday was the big-data figure; a figure that would impress the Dean of Graduate Studies.
    Here’s the story: http://jcasatodd.com/?p=630

    Like

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