Twitter in Education – Barriers and possible solutions?
June 16, 2012 24 Comments
After a wry commentary on the ‘10 Stages of Twitter‘ many educators have commented on the barriers that exist to twitter use. As a proposed channel of communication for iPad use in school, it is important to investigate these barriers and address them for staff.
- ACCESS – It is all very well popping onto twitter if you have a smartphone that allows you access with one tap of an icon. It is a very different experience if you are logging in via the website just to scroll through a timeline you don’t engage with
- UNDERSTANDING – Twitter fans have countless tales to tell about colleagues who ‘don’t get twitter’. It is a difficult medium to explain sometimes, even though its simplicity is its strength. A virtual chat with people you have never met is alien to some, particularly those who use Facebook as a measuring tool. Friends on Facebook have a link that suggests a reason for communication. The most positive experiences on twitter can come from people who merely share a common interest
- STIGMA aka ‘GET A LIFE’ – Why waste time on twitter when you should be living your life? There is a balance to be found with social media but in order to witness the benefits of twitter, a little time needs to be invested. The resistance to ‘new’ social media is easily supported by a flippant rejection citing the ‘youth of today’. This stigma needs to be removed as the positives far outweigh the negatives
- TIME – Adding to the burden of paperwork and information isn’t an option for most colleagues and immediately creates an issue. ‘Converts’ appreciate that twitter can actually save time but this doesn’t help any new observer. In terms of time spent, developing a Personal Learning Network is front-loaded. This can prove daunting and lead to a dismissal of worth
- PUBLIC OPINION – The spectre of judgement by a public audience is of great concern to many. The fact that tweets are in the public domain,or unsuitable, has been demonised by many commentators. The rule that ‘if you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, don’t tweet it’ isn’t enough of an explanation.
A number of solutions have been suggested to remove these barriers and are proving fruitful alongside our iPad trial:
- Allow time for twitter professional development with any presentation immediately followed up with individual trouble-shooting and support
- Create a ‘ring-fenced‘ twitter trial zone. In reality this is a number of protected twitter accounts that follow each other with no fear of external input
- Provide staff with a mobile device with easy access to twitter
- Publish case studies and evidence of twitter enhancing learning for students. Staffroom information gleaned from a twitter source is particularly useful
- Interact with any new colleague on twitter to encourage repetition of ‘good practice’. Simply conducting a twitter chat can illustrate how easy the process can be
- Encourage the following of hashtags to illustrate the variety of language used by members of the twitter community
The desire of twitter educators to introduce the medium to colleagues is fuelled by the very reason they are so keen on the medium. The collaborative nature of the twitter community directly complements the sharing of good practice within an establishment.
If I’m honest I hope we are successful in introducing as many colleagues as possible to twitter. Professional development doesn’t get much better?