That's right, I said it... there are some potential problems with Twitter. Some huge problems that could impact the benefit of this socially connected network that brings educators from across the globe together. Regardless of gender, race, class or geographical location, Twitter allows like-minded (or completely not like-minded) individuals to connect, collaborate, curate, engage, deliberate, discuss and learn for free... 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Need a link to an article, video or blog post? Hit up your PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network)! Need an idea for how to invigorate a staff meeting? Tweet out the question to your PLN! Want to introduce an app into your 1:1 school to support reading instruction? Type the question in 140 characters or less and your PLN will be there to help!
Yes, the potential power of Twitter is only beginning to be understood by many in the world of education. But, as we know, with anything good thing comes some potential issues, challenges and drawbacks and this is true of Twitter. There are some problems with Twitter, at least from my perspective and I need to put them out there for myself... so I can be aware of them as I continue my journey as a connected educator. What are these problems you ask? Well, here are the ones that I see...
1) We are susceptible to groupthink! That's right - I said it! Groupthink could totally rear its ugly head and I feel like I have seen it happen already. My take on groupthink is when within a group (usually like minded people) the desire for conformity and acceptance impact the decisions that are made by those within the group. Instead of critically evaluating and deliberating the ideas and points of view of others, we just accept others' ideas as our own to fit in or gain followers or be accepted or whatever! Should we be able to agree with those who think like us? YES... but let's not miss the opportunity to reframe a problem/issue/challenge and consider it from a different lens. For example, what if we didn't view the Common Core State Standards as the death of public education? What if we viewed them as an opportunity? Not saying that I feel one way or the other about CCSS but what I know is that it's one of those topics where we allow ourselves to feel victimized and jump on the bandwagon instead of flipping the table and taking a different stance.
2) That brings me to my other concern... there are too many people potentially taking the position of "victim" on Twitter. Is the current landscape of public education concerning? Yes! Are there lots of things happening in our schools that are not in the best interest of children? Yes! Does the push for high stakes testing, privatization of public education and accountability stink? Yes! But, why focus on all that when you are in this socially connected network of people where you have access to incredible amounts of expertise and experience (Where else can you chat with Todd Whitaker, Daniel Pink and even the Pope??) that can help you reframe challenges and see them as opportunities for growth and learning. I am not saying we shouldn't complain about all that is wrong but let's not get mired in that when we have the chance to collaborate with other passionate and motivated educators. Like I used to say to my kids, "Don't perpetuate the problem... offer a solution!"
3) Let's not just use Twitter as a soapbox or a space to regurgitate quotes and cliches... NO! Let's use this platform as a think tank... as a space to nurture and cultivate solutions... as a place to exchange ideas, resources and perspectives that will help us be better in our own contexts! Yes, we all know that there are inequities in our schools; systemic issues that our plaguing our learning institutions; and gaps in the quality of education our children are receiving across this country but instead of commenting on these issues, let's use the collective power and knowledge in this space to make things better! Let's push initiatives like Genius Hour, Differentiated PD for educators and MakerSpaces... and the 100's of other ideas and approaches that can make learning more meaningful and engaging for our kids!
4) Twitter is not about the number of followers you have (although the more you have, the greater your reach and access to resources and perspectives) but instead Twitter is about the human connections you establish. The connections that lead to an exchange of ideas; the connections that lead to deliberations from different points of view that help us broaden our lens; the connections that give us a boost or a push when we need it most; the connections that inspire us and ground us at the same time. Twitter is about the people we get to know, respect and value... much like what happens in a well-functioning classroom or school.
5) We need to stop pushing Twitter on the disconnected educators because I don't think that is the right approach! When I used to talk about Twitter, I think people wondered how much of the Kool-Aid I had ingested and whether or not my tweeps and I were all in a cult! Well, what I started to realize is that the Twitter experience is a journey... it is not an experience that can simply be replicated for those who have yet to be connected. It looks different for every person and we have to respect that for some people, "lurking" (and never actually tweeting) is as far as they will get and that is ok. Twitter is about learning. Twitter is about getting access to some of the most amazing resources available to educators. Twitter is a personal journey whose trajectory is dictated by the individual... not the platform!
Ok... so there you have it... these are the problems with Twitter that I have identified during my two year journey. What do you think? Am I wrong? Have I missed any? Am I totally on point? Please help me see a different perspective... help me learn and grow... please push my thinking!