I've been playing in the educational social media space for nearly 11 years now, and I would have to say that my enthusiasm to be plugged in at all times and have my finger on the pulse has waned in the last few years. Networked learning enthusiasts were fewer back then and much less mainstream than what I see today out in the two main areas of interaction for me, blogs and Twitter.
There are heaps and heaps of teachers on Twitter these days. Finding relevant, interesting voices to connect to is harder for me now than it was back in 2007 when I first tried out the platform. Maybe it is because I am getting older but I feel my impatience overriding my enthusiasm at some of the things I see posted in the name of professional learning. I find #edhashtagchats still leave me cold. It is difficult for me to follow conversations and I rankle at the formulated posing of questions that allow precious little time for full meaningful interaction. Yet some of these #edhashtagchats want to promote the idea that they are open and inclusive of all educators.
Mostly, I hate the Twitter shoutout. When someone posts a string of @mybestmate names for a question or an invitation or an idea, it feels like the "in crowd" reminding me that I am not one of them, my input is not valued or even wanted. That probably isn't the reality but that is how it comes across. And a lot of the time, there is a thinly veiled undercurrent of self promotion. Names that attach other names to TechCompanyEducator statuses, shout out congrats on the new book deal, or come to this great PD event featuring the tweeter as presenter or keynoter. It makes me feel very cynical as networked learning was where I went to be inspired or have my ideas challenged, but I find that hard to do nowadays.
Maybe I need to go search out that new tool that hasn't been taken over by the cyber-narcissists. Or maybe, if I don't "get" the people who populate my Twitterstream, it is time to unfollow, comb through my lists to see who actually does contribute to my learning and try again.
Twitter-sphere aside, I am finding fewer opportunities to be inspired at all. Perhaps it’s the restricted data driven world in which we work that depresses innovation. Sharing and challenging practice used to be like pulling taffy – ideas were stretched and re shaped into new and exciting ways to work. We’ve had some great moments at school this year that poked and prodded my imagination into life. How do we entice others into the space where the important things can be designed together, and the imperatives of our obligations as educators can be refocused – and we stop just showing each other our shiny bits?
Thanks for your comment, Barb. I think I could feel some of your frustrations the other week when I tweeted some info about NAPLAN Online which was being pitched as “super important” and you insightfully pointed out some of the contradictory qualities of our mandated data requirements. It was a shame that the Innovative Leaders PLC that both of our schools were a part of a couple of years ago was disbanded – I felt that was really useful in talking through what is possible in spite of the departmental compliances that are placed in a progressive school’s path. And I find I don’t have as much patience for the new breed of EduTweeter who are more interested in buzz phrase terminology and self tagging themselves as learning architects or disruptive thinkers.
You make some very good points, as I have felt the same sometimes. I think there’s a fine line between sharing and excessive self-promotion. I like how Mark Weston @ShiftParadigm praises different groups of people he finds inspiring in categories like ‘Counselors to follow’, ‘inspiring administrators’, etc. Helps me find new and interesting people with different ideas. I appreciate your total honesty and sharing; it reminds us of what’s important.
Just listening to Waleed on Radio National. Conversation about Pokemon Go. Two things happened. Waleed changed his question half way through because the conversation with other people deepened his thinking. Secondly they spoke of the intersection between augmented reality, public space and the philosophies of moral purpose and sacredness. There it is. That’s what we need a bit more of. Didn’t even make my head hurt! So many Twitter feeds are people arguing in black and white, thinking they can out argue each other, dismissing or abusing when they can’t and they never seem to reach that grey Intersection where people learn from each other and challenge their own thinking. That’s where we can do some real work with kids and technology.
I’m conducting PhD research into teacher professional learning using Twitter. I’d be really interested in reading more of your views. Would you be able to answer a few questions here on your blog? There’s more information about my study here https://cpdin140.wordpress.com/about/participant-information-for-bloggers/ together with contact details should you have any questions.
I hear what you’re saying. I think we connected back in ’08 or ’09 when everything was fresh and few people were on Twitter sharing great content. Now there are so many folks to follow, It’s hard to keep up.
I keep reading your content. I enjoy your perspective on life and education from the other side of the world. I’m going to be spending some time off line that will surely refresh me. It’s a too rare occurrence for me.
Thanks, John. Sometimes I think that maybe I am just suffering from a bit of online nostalgia and that it sounds a bit like “things were better back then” which is not quite what I mean.
Nowadays, Twitter is so much in that most of the people are using it. With the meaningful and useful tweets, the twiiter is also full of nonsense and useless stuff. It is normal to see arguments with full of abusive words there. I am also using twitter and I only follow someone after checking their tweets, as there is no use of following some unwanted and meaningless substance.
Very much agree. I’ve come to accept that Twitter will never again be what it was 10 or so years ago. I’ve transitioned many of my more meaningful conversations to places like Voxer. The problem is that finding new and different voices is difficult. Blogging is no longer the publishing mecca it once was. RSS seems like it’s a dying technology. Twitter was always about serendipity and surprise. That’s what I miss. Not sure where to find it anymore.
Hi Dean, really looking forward to meeting you f2f tomorrow. That is the sort of connection that I really value from social media where people were “blogging out loud” with ideas that still needed new perspective in order to form into new fruitful understanding. From what I see on Australian education twitter conversations, there is a lot more self promotion, pushing of set-in-stone agendas and hardly any of the learning-from-my-mistakes and half-baked-ideas that I derive true learning from.
Yep. Not much more to add to that thought Graham. Yep.
Barb, are you coming down to see Dean? EdTechSA event?
I am new to Twitter and honestly have been “off” social media for 3 years now. I am currently in a teacher pre-service program at UM and was encouraged to create a Twitter account for professional purposes such as connecting with fellow educators for inspiration/lessons/activity ideas and as a tool to communicate with students and parents/guardians. I was hesitant to join for the exact reasons you point out here. I find myself to be quite resourceful when it comes to searching the internet, and I worry by joining Twitter, I will simply become overwhelmed or disinterested due to a lack of “meaningful substance”. I also struggle with what I could share to fellow educators – the internet is so jam-packed with ideas from anyone and everyone, I feel that sharing more can just clutter an already chaotic mess. How do you efficiently determine the more effective and quality lesson between my photosynthesis lab ideas and the other several thousand that are already out there?