Twitter has become my default resource for professional development. I’m about ready to make the claim that I’ve learned more about teaching and education through twitter than I did through my painfully expensive Master’s Degree. If you’re not using it, get on Twitter.
If you’re on Twitter, and still don’t know where to get started, there is no shortage of #edchats to get involved with.
Seriously, if you skipped that link, here it is again. Geez!
You’re all but guaranteed to be able to join an #edchat right now. Teachers are nuts about this stuff!
And with good reason. With #edchats you’re walking into a professional development community of teachers who care about their job, their students, and themselves enough to work on improving every day. Nobody’s paid to be in an #edchat, they just want to be there, and they want you to be there.
The Gap in Twitter’s Floorboard
While #edchats are great, there’s something I’ve noticed missing on more than one occasion.
There are a lot of teachers that ask questions on Twitter just to have it disappear into the ether. There are arguments that a tweet’s lifespan is about 18 minutes. I think that’s being generous. Depending on the time of day and how many people we follow, a tweet can disappear much more quickly. If you’re involved in a popular chat like #caedchat – forget about it. Blink and a tweet can disappear.
Here’s the unfair rub: Teachers who are “popular” on twitter – meaning those who have a lot of followers – are likely to get their questions answered. Teachers who only have a few followers but whose questions are JUST as valid will likely be ignored – not because people don’t want to answer, but because they don’t have the reach.
I’m seeing this first hand – I recently passed 1000 followers, and while it’s not a lot, it is a threshold. When I had a couple hundred followers, my questions just floated away. Now I’m more likely to get a response or two. Those with 5 or 10 thousand followers are likely to get a great variety of responses.
Again, nobody is being nefarious (despite the Animal Farm reference above), it’s just a product of the system.
Why Are Teachers Using Twitter?
I’d argue that there are two reasons teachers are on twitter, and usually it’s for both reasons rather than one or the other:
That’s it. We’re a simple bunch.
There are a lot of teachers out there – including me – that have questions about some things, and answers for others. We’d love to share our thoughts, but guided chats might not always be the best place.
Teachers are teachers because they get a little buzz helping people out. Sometimes I’ll scan twitter looking for a question that I can answer. More often than not, it turns out that I find a question that I want the answer to, too.
So how do we solve the dilemma of missing questions that fall through the cracks?
I have a proposal:
It struck me that there ought to be an easy way for people to post and find questions in the world of EdTech. With such a thriving twitter community, shouldn’t we have a hashtag that teachers can access to ask and answer questions any time without having to be (as John Samuelson laments) “#edufamous”?
If teachers tag their questions with #EdTechQ perhaps we could all make a collective effort to help each other out.
Those of us who have questions can ask with more hope that our questions will be answered.
Those of us who have answers can help, sharing our expertise.
How Can I Use #EdTechQ?
This idea isn’t mine – it’s ours. That means there shouldn’t be rules, either. I would love a resource on twitter that would let us help each other out even more than we already do.
Here are some types of questions you could ask, but I’d bet you have a lot better questions than what I can make up:
- Does anybody have a resource on becoming a Google Certified Teacher? #EdTechQ
- How can I share my Kahoot with just one teacher? #EdTechQ
- What’s a good app for _______? #EdTechQ
- There was a post last month circulating about how to use Socrative in a special ed class – anybody remember where that was? #EdTechQ
- I have a $500 budget, should I buy a PC to match my school’s computers, or an iPad? #EdTechQ
I’m more and more amazed at the generosity of teachers on Twitter every day. I’d love to see a pooled resource where you don’t have to have a long reach to get your questions answered by them. If social media is truly the great equalizer, then perhaps a hashtag like #EdTechQ could help us keep the balance for everyone.
I’ll be checking it to see if I can ask and answer questions – I hope you will too.