Twitter

If Educators aren’t using Twitter by now, are they likely to use it in the Future?

What had started as a small, one-sentence question has stayed on my mind for longer than I thought. Benjamin Stewart originally asked the question that makes the title of this post on Google+ and it actually turns out to be not that easy to answer. My first reaction was, it depends on how far Twitter has become an essential part in the day to day life of the average person whether it had established itself in the mainstream.

For example, if you don’t use a telephone today you probably have good reasons not to and therefore you probably won’t use it in the future. Sure, it makes you look a bit weird but that’s a personal choice. I don’t think that Twitter is that far as there are enough people left who have not even heard about it though this number is surely shrinking thanks to the embedding of Twitter in popular news and entertainment shows on TV.

To look at this question from another angle, we could of course ask whether Twitter will be around long enough to become part of the mainstream or will it be replaced by other tools and services that offer the same or maybe even a better experience.

If you take a look at how educators tend to use Twitter you will notice that they use it as an open chat platform. It is a lot about interacting with fellow educators and sharing links. I think the main point of Twitter here is that it is easy to understand, it has a flat learning curve which means that even not so tech-savvy people can get it up and running in no time.

As we all know, there is also lots of activity going on in the education space with dedicated Twitter chats and lists which help educators to grow their PLN very quickly. The overall notion of this Twitter based educator community feels pretty open and embracing.

Twitter is also bitesized, short updates in real time which fit into lunch breaks or in between classes to stay connected with the community.

I get back to community a lot and that is probably the core of Twitter for educators. If you feel the need to be part of a community of like-minded educators, Twitter will be your social network of choice sooner or later. I even think that in the case the geek, tech and even mainstream audience would leave Twitter, educators would stick around until the lights go out.

Therefore to answer Ben’s question: educators who know Twitter and are not on it by now won’t probably use it in the future. Educators who don’t know about the service yet but feel the need to connect with colleagues will get attached to it as soon as they experience the service.

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  • bnleez

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Kirsten. I wonder if there is room in your final answer to include those who think they know what Twitter is or how it works, but have never used it and will probably never use it in the future? And what would it take to get over than “hump” of thinking one knows to truly seeing the potential.

    Also, do you think it depends on the type of interaction they feel comfortable with? Facebook seems the most “groupish”, followed by Google+, then Twitter. That is, I’m more inclined to share opposing views in Twitter than I am in facebook. A lot will depend on how one organizes one’s facebook page, but in my case, I have a lot of friends and some colleagues in my facebook, and would tend not to question ideas like I might in Twitter, blogs, or even Google+. I know this will depend a lot on the individual, but this might also be a factor in deciding whether or not to use Twitter as a new social media tool, would it not? If I feel more comfortable in a group with like-minded individuals, I might gravitate to facebook more than Twitter, perhaps. I’ve said this before, but I find it interesting how and why individuals choose facebook over Twitter because I believe it speaks to really the differences between interacting in a group versus a network.

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      What’s the expression “you can carry the horse to the water…” – I don’t think that you can make someone use Twitter (or social media). In terms of the hump you need to find out what the person is passionate about and then find use cases in Twitter’s ecosystem. Everybody is passionate about something and for a start it doesn’t need to be education, I’d say.

      Twitter is like a cocktail party, you walk around, listen to conversations and then chime in from time to time. For me it is the place where I get my news and stay in touch with closer friends, much more than on Facebook. I think this all really depends on the person and how one uses the different tools. :)

      • AndreaTEFL

        Hi Kirsten,

        I think you’re spot on when you say Twitter is like a cocktail party. It’s all about the networking, meeting like-minded people and occasionally finding very interesting and useful things as you go along.

        Trying to keep up with every single post is almost impossible, but so is trying to follow all the conversations that are going on in a cocktail party.

        • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

          Exactly. And there is also nothing wrong with moving to another group / topic at the party, or in other words unfollowing folks. I know, hot topic!

          • M Pacansky-Brock

            Do others notice the contrast in use between K12 teachers and higher education professors on Twitter? For example, #edtech and #edchat are primarily K12 focused. They’re dynamic and stunning resources. What is the equivalent in higher ed? Not to say we can’t or should partner. I’m in higher ed and learn a ton from my K12 peers. I’m just curious to understand if others notice this trend too. I appreciate Kristen’s post, as I’ve been trying to engage more participation from my community college peers on Twitter and it’s been tough.

  • http://multimediaenglishclub.wordpress.com/ Amr Wady

    Absolutely amazing article. Keep doing it as possible as. :)

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Thanks Amr :)

      • http://multimediaenglishclub.blogspot.com Amr Wady

        No problem :)