Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Twitter Cannot Do

Twitter is an amazing tool, no argument.  I've been on the site for about a year now and, frankly, some days it feels addictive.  

But Twitter is not the solution to teachers' professional development challenges--and it is not going to reform education.  Some of the educators I "follow" are making the most outrageous claims about its transformative power and about the importance of what self-proclaimed educator-leaders post in 140 characters or less! "Everything you tweet is so memorable and important  . . . keep doing what you're doing," one woman gushed about a school technologist in NC.  He has apparently accepted the mantle of Messiah and recently dedicated post #10,000--yes, ten thousand!--to his followers (or . . . um, disciples, perhaps?).  Another teacher said he has learned more on Twitter in the 2 months he's been on it than he did in two years of graduate school.  Wonder where he went to school??

I suggest that we slow down, curb our enthusiasm, and begin to check the evidence.  At MAST, there are 2 people out of 43 professional staff members on Twitter. Hmm . . . not even 10%, hardly a tidal wave.  I have seen nothing to indicate that even 10% of the teachers in MDCPS--the 4th largest school district in the US-- are on Twitter. In fact, I have seen nothing that suggests that 10% of the educators of any district have joined the 140-character brigade. Change the face of teaching? Transform professional development? 

For many of the educators on Twitter, RT blasts hold the promise of a radically changed educational landscape. I don't think so.  It's a terrific tool and good fun, but meaningful changes to US schooling will require more than a mountain of RTs.


Marisa said...

I think the prerequisite of having an i-phone may keep most teachers off twitter. I could receive tweets on my cell phone but my service charges for text messaging. Also my cell phone's internet access is limited so if someone tweeted a great link, I would be stuck until I got to a real pc which defeats the purpose of instant sharing.

Margaret E. Haun said...

Good point, Marisa!