The Edublogosphere is being criticized for twittering

I get somewhat irritated when I read posts like this one: The Apocalypse is Nigh, Stager of Twitter, Flickr, and NECC which is based upon another article, Twittering While America Burns.

In His Apocalpyse Article, Matthew says:

For those who aren’t in the know [or don’t especially care], Twitter is a social networking service that combines features of text messaging and blogging; Flickr is for photo sharing. Countless blogs in my RSS reader gush over these fashionable darlings of “web 2.0″ daily while:

And those are the examples I thought of in the last seven seconds.

I don’t expect all educators to lend their manpower to all causes, especially when some are better suited than others to tackle a particular problem. I do, however, expect educators to behave like professionals and put their respective issues into proper perspective. Mr. Stager was quite right to call you out and I support his point in full.

To those who have spent their day “Twittering,” I’ll issue to you a hearty, “Grow up.” If I’m wrong about the value of Twitter, Flickr and others, let me know – I’m interested in hearing your case.

This is my response:

Yes, the edublogosphere is connecting via twitter, however, you will see that most of us use twitter to indeed share the most important things (while of course some share more inane things.)

The bottom line is that it is connecting us and while you may look at it and immediately jump in and criticize, if you look at the other things that those connecting through twitter are doing, you’ll see projects like that of Julie Lindsay and I which are included in Thomas Friedman’s upcoming update to the World is Flat on educational activism. We connected five classrooms in Bangladesh, Austria, Australia, China, and my classroom in Georgia USA to study the trends in IT and actually have a meaningful project.

Do I twitter, yes! But I also am working on a project, connecting with other teachers, and although I am a private school teacher, doing my very best to find a public school to connect with the kinds of global projects that need to happen in America’s typically ethnocentric education system.

My zeal is for effective meaningful, engaging education and sharing the best practices that I am using in my classroom which happens to be a technology classroom, I am however, working with english, math, and other classrooms.

I too am alarmed about many of the issues in education and am doing my part — but to single out what is happening with Twitter is again making educators who are often islands of excellence retreat and be disconnected.

Most teachers quit within the first three years because they feel isolated and alone and if twitter gives them a connection with others who are struggling through the system like them then bring it on.

I’m sorry that those who just take a cursory look seem to jump to conclusions and lump everyone together — if you look at most, there are very few who spend “all day” twittering — it is just not so.

In Twittering while America burns, Gary Stager says:

The education blogosphere is in overdrive this summer with discussions of edugaming, all things Web 2.0, Flickrs of NECC photos and abstract ruminations on school reform. The virtual aspects of schooling are well represented in these discussions. Far less represented are the actual problems that require immediate attention.

My response is this:

What you’re seeing in the edublogosphere is not representative of the leadership in education, it is just not. Many of us are technology people so we write about technology. We’ve had many discussions on how more researchers, administrators, and policy makers involved in education need to move into the edublogosphere, but as of yet, with the exception of a few, they have not.

I think what you are seeing is more a reflection of the make up of the blogosphere than the fact that the edublogosphere doesn’t care about these issues. I also think that the summer is not the best time to see meaningful debate as many people are taking time off.

To ask the edublogosphere to be all things to all people in education is not realistic because we do not as of yet have a well-represented mix of all layers of the educational system. In fact, you’ll see that many state education teacher organizations (like Pennsylvania) have in fact come out and told their teachers that it is unethical to blog at all (which I think is preposterous.) Twitter and other tools are ways that facilitate connections between us and it may look a bit “silly” while many newcomers come on board, however, I will say that many of the most meaningful important things that I will use in my classroom have come through twitter. I am a classroom teacher and that is what I write about mostly because that is my area of interest.

Yes, I care about these issues that you talk about, however, they are not in my typical sphere of operation. To get more reflection on global topics, we need more educational policy makers involved in the edublogosphere but for now it is pretty much a homogeneous mix of those who actively use technology to engage students (which is a great use for it, although there is no easy fix for education.)

There are quite a few in the blogosphere that are talking about these articles, I’m wondering why there are not more comments?

I don’t have a lot of time because teaching and working on projects takes so much of it, but the microblogging feature of twitter really helps me keep up. I care less about defending twitter per se as in reflecting that there are many of us edubloggers who do care and who are working diligently to do our part to help education as a whole.

No doubt we have so many issues to tackle in the education system in America. We all have to do our part, but to expect a person or blogger to be what they are not is not realistic. I think this is a call to get a more diverse representation of education blogging.

Your thoughts?

I would call each of us to:

  1. Respond as you see fit.
  2. Show that we do tackle meaningful, important issues in our sphere of expertise.

I am thankful to be a part of the edublogosphere, I was an island, alone and thinking of quitting teaching altogether because of my own frustration. I am connected, energized and better than ever and get e-mails daily from those I’ve helped and who in turn are passing it along to others. Connecting teachers is a great thing! I don’t see anything wrong with that, don’t let this stop you from connecting.

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17 thoughts on “The Edublogosphere is being criticized for twittering

  1. I see fit to say, Matthew, grow up!
    Just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean you have any right to denounce those of us who do.

  2. According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll
    “In Internet terminology, a troll is someone who intentionally posts messages about sensitive topics constructed to cause controversy in an online community such as an online discussion forum or USENET groups in order to bait users into responding.[1] They may also plant images and data on networks that others may find disturbing in order to cause confrontation.”

    Consider the source.

  3. Great post. I couldn’t agree with you more. I was intrigued by your comment about state education associations calling blogging unethical. Can you post more about that?

    -Jackie
    teacherhacks.blogspot.com

  4. Being only new to the edublogosphere I have to agree with you about these comments. In my experience only a small proportion of teachers blog let alone know what a blog is. Thus for those of us who do, if we happen to feel that twitter may be useful for our professional development and building a true educational community then surely that should be seen as a positive. We need more teachers, teachers who are motivated, enjoy their jobs and work together, not in competition.

  5. Vicki,

    I raised the question of why the edublogosphere isn’t discussing substantive issues such as the recent Supreme Court decision regarding school segregation. You reinforced my thesis by defending Twitter.

    If you wish to focus discussions on web technologies, that’s fine. However, many of your colleagues conflate their ability to converse online with a self-image as education reformers.

  6. While I am not a fervent Twitter girl, I can see that it would have value if I knew more people doing it! My Twitter name is suziea by the way 🙂 The immediacy of the knowledge that can be shared that way has obvious benefits. People who are blogging of using Twitter are probably thinking more about education in a global sense than other teachers passively watching TV or so snowed under with marking or planning that they don’t think about the bigger picture.

  7. Hi Vicki

    I think Gary and Matthew bring up important points. Most of my work is done in schools in which students and teachers do not have sufficient access to modern technology; blogging, web 2.0, twitter are just words to many of them (if they’ve herd of them at all). Struggling to reach state and national standards and to increase graduation numbers are the reality.

    That being said, I think it is very important that a number of teachers are exploring the exciting potential of web 2.0 in education; just as exploration of technologies in the past has led to their currently accepted use, trying it out now will permeate the classroom and affedt the future.

  8. I think there are many great Web 2.0 applications with incredible potential to enrich and support rich learning for students. Twitter is not one of them. If history has taught us anything in educational technology, it’s that it’s very easy to get caught up in a wave of excitement and uncritically accept every new doo-dad that comes down the pipe and then begin searching out educational problems to solve with it. People usually come to regret saying things like this, but I think that Twitter is a fad. I think that there are better tools out that directly support the development of 21st Century skills in our students, including blogs, wikis, RSS, and many others.

  9. Gary-

    I don’t believe that I was defending twitter per se but rather making several points:

    1) The edublogosphere isn’t as representative of policy makers big picture people as it should be.

    2) The edublogosphere is not solely focused on North America.

    3) Connecting educators is a good thing, however we do it.

    Twitter is microblogging which many times is much more efficient than RSS feeds — I see it as smart RSS — there is my defense of twitter.

    Yes, the important issues need to be on the front burner and being discussed. I’d love to know which blogs you read and if you would hyperlink to those you consider too twitter happy, perhaps they are. As of now, you’re making generalities.

  10. There are people in the blogosphere that are discussing the ‘big issues’. I think of Doug Noonn at Borderlands, Sarah Pugilasi (sorry I might have spelt that incorrectly, Stephen Downes (albeit with a techno twist). I don’t know if they Twitter but I would imagine that if they found it useful they would. You find what you are looking for when you are in the blogosphere. If you are looking for technology discussion or political discussion, you find it. I would suggest that this commenter is not looking very carefully for the discussion.

    Teachers/educblogers are not hiding in the fluffy world of technology as an escape from the real world and its real problems. Teachers are looking for ways to connect their students to the real world. The real world “Twitters” and real influence has come to take some of these forms. I want my students to learn how to affect change using these tools. If I don’t use them, how do I teach them to?

    As to actually having fun or using the tools to connect for that purpose, I suspect connected teachers who have a little fun are far to few and far between these days. It can’t hurt students to be with happy, fun-loving teachers. After all we need to “Get messy and take chances” (MSB).

  11. To Vicki and the Commenters,

    As I posted on my blog, I just got back from a short vacation and, as usual, am playing a rotten [hopeless?] game of catch-up.

    This issue is a big one – it’s most certainly worth a full discussion. I’ll post a full response on my site as soon as I can get to it. The response will include not only a brief examination of my stance on some of the web 2.0 technologies, but also a look at how this debate has progressed.

    It will include an instructive look at the nature of discourse in the edublogosphere and how this particular debate evolved.

    Matthew K. Tabor
    http://www.matthewktabor.com

  12. The discussion reminds me of the old story of the man who is given two shirts by his mother. The first time he wears one his mother asks him why he didn’t like the other shirt.

    Talking about one issue (or in this case set of tools) doesn’t mean that one doesn’t care or isn’t trying to fix other problems. Should there be more talk about other issues? Perhaps. But perhaps it is all taking place in other venues. There was a lot of talk about big picture (and political) issues like NCLB and kids not reading and all sorts of other things at the Bloggers Cafe at NECC and at EduBloggerCon before that.

    And for a lot of educational problems web 2.0 tools may be a huge help. But if teachers don’t use them enough to become comfortable with them they can’t help at all. We don’t ask teachers to stop learning so that they can teach better. Or do we?

  13. Please count the times you say “I” within your blogs……your boasting is becoming very tiresome.

  14. Anonymous-
    Actually, your comment really hurt my feelings. Boasting is not something I ever intend, in this case, however, I felt that the blogosphere was being mischaracterized and used my own experiences — can’t speak for anyone else.

    I apologize if you feel I am boasting, but the great thing about the blogosphere is that you choose what you want to read. If you think my boasting is tiresome, you certainly don’t have to read it.

    If you look in the previous post, the items in quotes were comments on other blogs where those people neither know me or where I’m coming from.

    I’m sorry that you feel that way and sorry that I let your hurtful comment turn a great day down and upset me as much as it has.

  15. Vicki,

    Relax. I think that anonymous probably meant me. And even if they didn’t, you’re absolutely right – this is your site that exposes your point of view – that’s why the Cool Cat Teacher Blog is valuable. My site is personal and the same way. I’m not sure what else a reader should expect from us. Maybe we should take it upon ourselves to speak for others? Something tells me that would generate quite a bit more negative feedback.

    I wrote a brief post this afternoon about criticism in the edublogosphere. You might find it a good read and I’d hope that we agree on most of it.

  16. Vicki – i just posted an article about keeping teachers from feeling alone – especially in their first few years – on my blog. I am completely passionate about this issue. Twitter, though currently blocked by our county’s web filter, let’s me know that folks are out there and being active in balancing their lives and fervent educational pursuits. Seeing this keeps me going…and going…and going…

    I am already planning to host an inservice on Web 2.0 at my school this fall, and cannot say enough about the power of these technologies to connect teachers and students across all subject and all geographic regions. 🙂

  17. Great post. I couldn’t agree with you more. I was intrigued by your comment about state education associations calling blogging unethical. Can you post more about that?

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